Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) record when it comes to racially charged rhetoric has long been problematic, but this week, the trajectory of this story took a rather alarming turn.
At a town-hall event on Wednesday, LePage said he’s been “collecting” mugshots of “every single drug dealer” who has been arrested in Maine – why he’s proactively done this is unclear – and “90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people” from out of state.
Note, earlier in the year, the far-right governor said he just “reads the names” of the drug dealers and didn’t care at all about race or ethnicity. This week, apparently, LePage dropped the pretense.
When reporters asked the governor the next day about his comments, LePage replied, “Let me tell you something: Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers. You ought to look into that!” According to the Portland Press Herald, the governor then stormed off, saying over his shoulder, “You make me so sick!”
The same newspaper published this follow-up report this morning:
Gov. Paul LePage left a state lawmaker from Westbrook an expletive-laden phone message Thursday in which he accused the legislator of calling him a racist, encouraged him to make the message public and said, “I’m after you.”LePage sent the message Thursday morning after a television reporter appeared to suggest that Democratic Rep. Drew Gattine was among several people who had called the governor a racist, which Gattine later denied.
“Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage,” the governor’s phone message said. “I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you (expletive). I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist (expletive). You … I need you to, just friggin. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”
I especially liked the “thank you” at the end – because when leaving a threatening, expletive-laden message for someone, it’s important not to forget one’s manners.
LePage soon after told reporters he’d like to shoot the state lawmaker who offended him.
“When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” LePage said, according to the Portland Press Herald’s report. “And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes.”
Remember, Paul LePage is an actual, elected governor of a state. As recently as May, the Maine Republican said he’d like to join Donald Trump’s cabinet if the GOP nominee becomes president.
Postscript: As if all of this weren’t quite enough, note that LePage also decided to go after Khizr Kahn this week, arguing on a radio show that Khan is “a con artist.” The audio of the interview is online.