Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) raised the possibility that he will step down before his term is up in two years, as he faces increasing criticism from members of his own party.
“I’m looking at all options,” LePage said Tuesday in an interview on the radio station WVOM, as first reported by the Portland Press Herald. “I think some things I’ve been asked to do are beyond my ability. I’m not going to say that I’m not going to finish it. I’m not saying that I am going to finish it.”
“If I’ve lost my ability to help Maine people, maybe it’s time to move on,” he added.
LePage has long been known for his controversial comments, but his most recent scandal seems to have inflicted some serious damage. Last week, the governor left a voicemail for a Democratic state legislator in which he called him a homophobic slur.
“Mr. Gattine, this is Governor Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker,” LePage said. “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 cocksucker. You, I need you to, just freakin’, I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”
The controversy started in January, when LePage claimed that drug dealers with names like “Smoothie, D-Money and Shifty” come into Maine and “impregnate a young, white girl before they leave.” Last week, LePage tried to back up his statement ― which had been widely criticized at the time ― by saying he keeps a binder of drug dealers arrested in Maine and “90-plus percent of those pictures” in his book are of black and Hispanic individuals.
LePage was upset by a report that state Rep. Drew Gattine (D) called him a racist in response, which led to the voice message. Gattine denied to the Portland Press Herald that he ever called the governor a racist.
LePage has become a massive headache for his fellow Republicans in the state, and they’re trying to figure out how to rein him in.
Republican leaders met Monday with LePage discuss how to deal with the fallout from the voicemail incident. Senate President Mike Thibodeau called the voicemail “unacceptable” and said the governor needs to take “corrective action” ― although he wouldn’t go so far as to say LePage should be impeached.
“I don’t think our caucus is talking about impeachment,” Thibodeau told WMTW. “We’re talking about corrective action. I think that speculating on all that sort of stuff would be irresponsible on our part, given the fact that we haven’t even had a face-to-face meeting.”
Thibodeau’s spokesman told the Associated Press that the governor “told the Republican leaders he would talk to his family and advisers about possible corrective action.”
State Sen. Amy Volk (R) on Sunday posted on Facebook that she would even support censuring the governor.
Democrats in the state, however, have said censure wouldn’t go far enough.
“We’ve all been very clear in what we are looking for,” said state Rep. Sara Gideon (D), the assistant majority leader in the Maine House. “We feel that the governor has really demonstrated behaviors, and it’s not just that it’s not appropriate for a governor, it shows that he is not in control of either his emotions or his actions, and yes, we have called for his resignation. We think it should be nothing short of that.”
In January, a group of legislators tried to impeach LePage, but the effort failed.
LePage said Tuesday that he had apologized to Gattine and his family for the voice message and plans to invite the representative to a face-to-face meeting.
UPDATE: 12:59 p.m. ― LePage tried to tamp down some of the speculation Tuesday, tweeting: