Maine Governor Will Not Resign Amid Fallout From Racially-Charged Comments, Violent Voicemail

By Sameer Rao Aug 31, 2016

We reported in January on Maine Governor Paul LePage’s remarks attributing the state’s heroin trafficking issues to "guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty" who "incidentally, half the time… impregnate a young White girl before they leave." LePage’s recent doubling-down on that sentiment lead to a scandal in which he suggested he’d resign before finally telling reporters today (August 31) that he would stay in his position.

"I will not resign," said LePage in a press conference. Addressing allegations that mental instability led to a controversial voicemail that raised doubts about his leadership, LePage insisted, "I’m not an alcoholic and I’m not a drug addict and I don’t have mental issues." The governor also asserted that he would no longer speak to reporters. "And I’m serious," he added. "Everything will be put into writing. I’m tired of being caught in the gotcha moments."

The controversy began, according to the Portland Press Herald, after LePage mentioned in a speech last week that "he’s been keeping a three-ring binder with mug shots of heroin dealers arrested since January and that more than 90 percent of the suspects are [B]lack or Hispanic." He repeated those statements about drug dealers’ ethnicities in other settings, prompting criticism from a number of state lawmakers and residents. One of those critics, state Representative Drew Gattine, received an expletive-laden voicemail from LePage last Thursday (August 25) morning after a television reporter seemed to suggest that Gattine called the governor a racist:
I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker. I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping [B]lack people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist cocksucker. You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.

LePage then told the Press Herald and a local TV station that he wished he could have a duel with Gattine. 

Revelations of the voicemail provoked criticism from state lawmakers from both major political parties. Several state Democrats demanded LePage’s resignation, which he intoned may happen in an interview Tuesday (August 30) with radio station WVOM; he backed off from that statement later in a now-deleted tweet cited by the Press Herald

LePage apologized to and met with Gattine (who still maintains that LePage should resign) before today’s press conference. He also lamented the reporter who suggested Gattine called him a racist (which Gattine says he didn’t do, simply criticizing his "racially [charged] comments." 

"(The media) needs to not print any more articles about drug trafficking because every single thing I did came out of the newspapers," said LaPage. "Let’s put it this way, human beings are coming to Maine and killing people…Let’s leave the ethnicity out of it."

(H/t The Boston Globe, Portland Press Herald)