BOSTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) - The president of Maine’s state Senate on Friday said he would not pursue a special session to censure Governor Paul LePage for leaving a profanity-laden voicemail message for a lawmaker amid a dispute about the governor’s comments on race and drug dealing.
Senator Michael Thibodeau, who like LePage is a Republican, earlier in the week had said he was interested in a one-day special session to officially reprimand the two-term governor for calling a Democratic state legislator a “little son-of-a-bitch, socialist cocksucker.”
But on Friday he said he would not follow the lead of state House Speaker Mark Eves, who began polling lawmakers in his chamber as to whether they were ready to call a special session “to take action regarding the Governor’s conduct.”
“He is unfit to serve as Governor and must resign or be removed from office,” Eves said of LePage in a statement on Friday.
That query, Thibodeau said, went further than Senate Republicans were willing to go, adding that his party had been ready to vote for a one-day session to vote on an official censure of LePage, whose current term extends through 2018.
“We’re not interested in coming back for impeachment,” Thibodeau told reporters.
The state House and Senate both adjourned in April and are not due to meet again until after the November elections.
LePage has faced a flurry of criticism over the past week for saying that members of minority groups from out of state were responsible for the lion’s share of the heroin trade in Maine. He drew further criticism after leaving a profane and widely circulated voicemail for a lawmaker that he believed had called him a racist.
Earlier in the week he mused during a 15-minute radio interview about the idea of not finishing out his term, only to come back a day later to say that he would not resign.
Earlier this year a group of lawmakers started an effort to impeach him, contending the governor overstepped his authority by threatening to withhold funds from a nonprofit group that hired a political rival, but that effort collapsed before making it to the full House.
Under Maine’s constitution, Thibodeau would have been first in line to succeed LePage if he stepped down or was removed from office.