Maine Governor Paul LePage earned more bad national press in one weekend than his predecessor did in eight years in office. And the story kept on going here in Maine, fueled by the governor's sadly characteristic explanatory falsehoods.
My latest piece at Newsweek.com asks if LePage's penchant for inflammatory speech and, frankly, making stuff up, is likely to do him political damage. The consensus: yes, if he doesn't change course. Interviews with Colby and USM political scientists, Republicans Kevin Raye and Phil Harriman, Democrats Emily Cain and Ethan Strimling, and the governor's spokesperson, Dan Demeritt.
A few items from my reporting that weren't of interest to a national audience, but might be to Mainers:
The problem with trying to write a summary of the aftermath of LePage's rude comments about the NAACP is that more stuff keeps happening to lengthen and deepen the controversy.
I tried to cover as many aspects as possible in this post at Down East.
The latest: national blogs have begun to pick up on the fact that LePage apparently lied about the initial invitation from the NAACP to attend an event at a Maine prison.
There will likely be more coming down the pike. LePage has agreed to schedule a meeting with the civil rights group and it will be interesting to hear how that goes and whether he takes the opportunity to finally apologize for his comments.
Stephen Colbert mentioned LePage's statement regarding the NAACP during Monday night's program, applauding LePage for the groundbreaking idea of a "white politician openly inviting a black person to kiss him... and without pants."
Prior to moving to Maine in February of last year (yes, I moved in February- thank goodness it was a soft winter), I spent four lucky years travelling around the U.S. working with grassroots organizations to build their state and local organizing campaigns. I spent the majority of my time moving between New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and our great state of Maine. While, I had a deep respect for the struggles, and successes of organizers in each of these states, Maine was always an outlier. The activists and organizers in Maine were able to reach a level of discourse, collaboration and outcomes that few other states are able to reach. That’s one of the major reasons I chose to leave Brooklyn, DC, Chicago and other places in the dust and moved to Lewiston.
True to Maine, whenever I’ve tried to explain this phenomenon to folks living in the state, they often shrug and smile- very humbly. Perhaps that’s because we can never be satisfied by our social justice work. It can feel like there is always work left to be done. Or, perhaps we have not yet had many opportunities to observe just how strong and productive our community is in the face of real and immediate opposition that is on the attack. Read more »