AUGUSTA, Maine, Aug. 27 (UPI) — Democrats in Maine are calling on Republican Gov. Paul LePage to resign after a profanity-laced tirade on a state lawmaker’s voicemail and blaming the state’s drug problem on blacks and Hispanics.
The controversy began when LePage defended his state’s record on drug enforcement. LePage told residents at a town hall meeting he keeps a binder full of photos of all the individuals arrested for drugs in Maine since January and 90 percent of them are black or Hispanic.
Maine, like many states, is grappling with a large and growing heroin epidemic.
“The enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color, or people of Hispanic origin,” he said at a press conference responding to criticism over his initial remarks.
Later he added: “When you go to war … 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.”
The issue came to a head Friday after two days of back-and-forth between LePage and state lawmakers critical of the governor’s incendiary rhetoric.
LePage trained his ire on Democratic state Rep. Drew Gattine, who LePage believed had called him a racist. LePage left the angry, threatening message for Gattine, who provided it to the Portland Press Herald, which published it.
State lawmakers from both parties, who are all up for re-election this year, have called on LePage to apologize or resign.
“We strongly and regretfully feel that he is unfit to serve as governor of the state of Maine right now,” said Rep. Sara Gideon of Freeport, the assistant Maine House Democratic leader. “We have real concerns and reservations about how we move forward together as lawmakers as well as Maine people.”
LePage did apologize to Maine voters for his language in the voicemail, but refused to apologize to Gattine, saying if it were a different political era the two would have engaged in a duel.
LePage is serving his second term as Maine’s governor and cannot run for re-election in 2018 due to term limits.