State Politics

Maine Governor Race 2022: A Deep Dive into the Candidates – Paul LePage

As the Maine Governor’s race edges closer to election day on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, it is important to stay informed on the state of the race, the candidates, and their policies. Both incumbent governor Janet Mills (D) and former governor Paul LePage (R) have been campaigning tirelessly throughout the past few months to assert themselves as Maine’s leader for the next 4 years. But with so many opinions and facts floating around, it can be difficult to get a grasp on who each candidate really is and what they are about. This article will provide a deep dive into the life, career, and policies of gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage.

Paul LePage (R)

Life and Career

Paul R. LePage, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Paul LePage had a difficult upbringing. Born and raised in Lewiston, Maine, his father was a violent and cruel alcoholic, and at the young age of 11, LePage fled his abusive home and was homeless for 2 years before he and his siblings were taken in by Eddy and Pauline Collins. He earned a living shining shoes, working in restaurants and bars, and other manual labor, but because he grew up speaking French due to his French-Canadian parents, he struggled with English dictation. Despite this, he was the only one in  his family to graduate from middle and high school. He attended Husson University and earned his B.S. in Business Administration concentrating in Finance and went on to earn his Masters degree in the field at the University of Maine. With skills acquired from his business degree, he founded LePage and Kasevich Inc., which focused on investing in budding companies. He began his political career in Waterville as a city counselor for two terms before becoming elected mayor in 2003 with the focus of reducing the tax burden of the town. 

In 2010, Paul LePage was elected governor of Maine in a seven candidate race, and served in that position from 2011-2019. His tenure as Maine Governor saw him issue 642 vetoes – the most vetoes of any governor in the history of Maine – with the goal to reduce the size and the influence of the government on Mainers as much as possible. As a result of his limited government policies, he built up the state’s budget stabilization fund or the “rainy day fund.” He also advocated for rollbacks on child labor laws, calling for children aged 12 and up to be able to work under a subminimum wage of $5.25, referencing his own experiences growing up and citing that it would allow state revenues to go up, and as such benefit the state as a whole. Now, LePage is back again, running for Maine State Governor, hoping to reign in the policies and statutes established under the Mills administration.

Campaign Overview

LePage continues to advocate for major government reduction of size, scope, and spending. He promises to phase out income tax in the state of Maine and instead divert more money into the state economy. LePage has pledged to reverse many of the welfare reforms put in place under the Mills administration, instead advocating for greater economic freedom and a system that only prioritizes those most impoverished:

“My vision for Maine is to create prosperity through a lower overall tax burden for residents and businesses; a smaller, more efficient state government that we can all afford; protecting our most vulnerable populations (our children, our seniors and persons with disabilities), empowering parents’ rights to decide their children’s future, and managing a welfare system that serves as a safety net for the truly needy – not a free for all.”

Statement from Paul R. LePage, via https://govlepage.com/agenda/

One of the issues he has kept the most quiet on as of late however has been on the topic of abortion. He has previously stated that he is opposed to the practice and believes that it should be banned, with many anti-abortion organizations and establishments hailing him as a clear anti-choice candidate. Despite his personal opposition to the practice, he continuously insists to have no plans to outlaw abortion in Maine if he were to be elected governor:

“[Abortion] is legal,” LePage said. “Nobody is saying they are going to reverse it. I am certainly not involved in reversing it or even attempt to do anything against abortion. It is the law of the state.”

Statement from Paul LePage, May 19, 2022, via https://www.mainepublic.org

While LePage is a member of the Republican party, he has publicly disavowed former president Donald Trump and his radical politics. This is a far cry from LePage’s original public opinion of Trump, whom he compared himself to on multiple occasions and openly endorsed in 2016. Despite LePage’s current attempts to disassociate himself from the former president, he does share much of the same political ideals with him, such as increasing voting restrictions and protecting a citizen’s right to bear arms in the United States Constitution.

Current Standing

Janet Mills is proving to be a difficult combatant for LePage. In his first gubernatorial election, LePage won 38% of the vote out of seven primary candidates, and in his second won against two primary candidates with 48% of the vote. In neither of the elections did Paul LePage win a majority of the vote, having won off of a plurality in both instead. Polling reflects much of LePage’s true popularity as well, as he trails Mills in the most recently available polls:

Latest Polls, Maine Governor Race, via FiveThirtyEight Polling

Despite LePage’s polling disadvantage, he has already proven himself to many Mainers, and as a familiar face to much of his voting base, he presents a challenge to Mills who is largely unpopular to much of rural Maine. LePage continues to straddle the line between the radicalized Trump base and center-swing voters, and as such may capture much of the undecided vote with his flashy promises like reducing the tax burden of Mainers.

Summary

LePage’s promises to reduce the size of the state government and reduce the tax burden of Mainers, making him a considerable concern for Mills when it comes to the swing voters of this election. But with the reversal of Roe v. Wade and the controversial figure-head of Donald Trump connected to the Republican party, LePage must be careful to walk the line in order to capture more votes than Mills. Time will tell as election day draws in on November 8, 2022. To find when, where, and how to vote in this race, visit: www.vote.org/polling-place-locator.

Categories: State Politics

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