Last month, voters in Maine picked a split government -- a rarity these days in national politics. Mainers returned a Democratic majority to the state legislature, where they'll get to deal with hard-right Governor Paul LePage, a Tea Party Republican.How's that going? Not so great.
LePage called off a budget meeting today with the new Democratic leaders because he objects to the video tracker hired to follow him by the Maine Democratic Party. From the Bangor Daily News:
The Republican governor said he won’t meet with Democratic legislative leaders until the cameraman is removed. LePage said that the so-called ‘‘tracker’’ has followed him for months, but that he hasn't made an issue of it and that it didn't bother him until Veterans Day, when he said a private conversation with an elderly veteran in poor health was taped."The people of Maine are not props, and I will not allow these special interest groups to use them to score political points," LePage said in a statement.
It's easy to see why someone might find it irritating to be followed around in public by someone with a video campaign, but trackers are very much a fact of modern political life. The MaineDems channel on YouTube contains surprisingly few videos of LePage.
In the MaineDems video posted above, Republican Senator Susan Collins sets an example for smooth relations with a tracker by telling him, "Make sure you get my good side" and later, "OK, I'll be seeing you on the campaign trail." At the other end of the spectrum, Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel got himself headlines he didn't want by getting into an altercation with his tracker in an elevator. Sometimes a tracker reveals much about a politician just by showing up.
UPDATE: If LePage had kept that budget meeting today, he might have talked about $35 million in cuts.