For over a week, Maine Gov. Paul LePage has claimed he has a three-ring binder full of drug dealers, and that 90 percent of them are black or Hispanic. This kind of reminds me of Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” but much more ominous.
After withering criticism–partly based on statistics showing the overwhelming majority of drug dealer arrests in Maine are white–LePage has (1) publicly threatened to resign in a radio interview, (2) walked back that threat, and (3) left a profanity-laced voicemail for a Democratic legislator who he wished he could challenge to a duel.
These actions lead me to question whether the Maine governor’s binder is of his personal drug dealers. Is LePage high?
Democratic leaders in the mostly-rural, New England state aren’t giving the Trump-supporting governor a pass, while Republicans mostly remain mum.
“I’m not in the medical profession, but it’s clear that the governor needs to seek professional help,” [Maine House Democratic Leader Jeff] McCabe said. “He’s crossed a line and we are questioning his well-being at this time.”
“As abhorrent as that behavior was, we’re even more concerned with what could happen next,” Senate Democratic leaders Justin Alfond and Dawn Hill said in a joint statement. “What important decision might the governor be making the next time he experiences one of these out-of-control episodes — when he is, as he puts it, ‘so angry he literally cannot breathe?’”
Maine has two enormous problems shared by many states where the economy is based on manufacturing and natural resources: unemployment and drugs. In 2015, drug fatalities increased by 31 percent over the previous year.
The vast majority of the 272 deaths in 2015 were caused by heroin, fentanyl or prescription opioids, according to the Attorney General’s Office. Most overdose deaths involve two or more drugs, meaning one overdose could show up in multiple categories.
LePage has focused on heroin, which many addicts “graduate” to after becoming addicted to opioids.
The fact of the matter is this: I got all of my info in my book from the press. It’s that simple,” he said. “Every drug arrest, we get the story and the people, and when it comes to meth labs it’s all white people from Maine. When it comes to heroin, it’s just the opposite. Whether it’s right or wrong and I’ll leave you to make that judgment, but I spoke fact.
The problem is that LePage focuses on race as the issue, calling racial minorities “the enemy.”
LePage then turned to House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, an officer who serves as a military lawyer in the Maine Air National Guard and sat in on the press conference. “Don’t you – Ken (Fredette) you’ve been in uniform? You shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”
While that comment might go over really well with Trump’s alt-right supporters, shooting the non-white enemy is a repugnant and simply awful position to hold by any politician.
“It’s not about me. It’s about making sure that we can move the state forward,” [LePage] said. “It’s one thing to have one party behind (you), it’s another thing to not have any party behind you.”
It doesn’t matter that LePage is a Republican. Nobody is going to back him up on this.
The state that’s home to the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin, and the newly created Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument deserves a better steward than a man who seems to be taking his cues from the late Toronto mayor, Rob Ford.
Perhaps the best thing LePage could do is follow through with his threat and just step down.
P.S. In Maine, Trump trails Clinton by 10 points. There’s nothing to save here for the GOP. Sen. Susan Collins is safe until 2020, and Independent Angus King is up in 2018. The state’s two congressional districts are fairly stable–the 1st CD Portland-Augusta axis is Democrat, and the rest of the state (2nd CD) is Republican. LePage is his own mess.