Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) left a threatening voicemail for a Democratic state lawmaker on Thursday, using obscene language and challenging the lawmaker to prove the governor is racist.
LePage believed that state Rep. Drew Gattine (D) accused him of being racist after the governor said he kept a binder full of drug traffickers arrested in Maine and that more than 90 percent of them were black or Hispanic. In an interview with the Portland Press Herald, Gattine denied he had made the claim.
In the voicemail, obtained by the Press Herald, LePage directed several obscenities toward Gattine.
“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.”
Listen to the full voicemail below:
In January, LePage said men with names like “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” were dealing drugs in Maine and impregnating white women. Earlier this week, he said the binder he kept proved he isn’t racist because it supported his statements about the racial makeup of the traffickers.
LePage released a statement Friday, saying he was angry and apologizing for his language.
“When someone calls me a racist, I take it very seriously. I didn’t know Drew Gattine from a hole in the wall until yesterday. It made me enormously angry when a TV reporter asked me for my reaction about Gattine calling me a racist. It is the absolute worst, most vile thing you can call a person,” he said. “So I called Gattine and used the worst word I could think of. I apologize for that to the people of Maine, but I make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state.”
The governor also said that he never intended to harm Gattine.
“When I said I was going after Gattine, I meant I would do everything I could to see that he and his agenda is defeated politically. I am a history buff, and I referenced how political opponents used to call each other out in the 1820s — including Andrew Jackson, the father of the Democratic Party. Obviously, it is illegal today; it was simply a metaphor and I meant no physical harm to Gattine,” he said.
Gattine did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the incident, but he told the Press Herald that LePage’s voicemail was “inappropriate and uncalled for.”
“What I said to the television reporter today is that the kind of racially charged comments the governor made are not at all helpful in solving what the real problem is,” Gattine told the Press Herald. “And that is, we have a crisis in the state of Maine of people overdosing on heroin and prescription drugs and we are not doing enough with respect to treatment and prevention.”
After leaving the voicemail, LePage publicly attacked Gattine and invited a television crew and Press Herald reporter for an interview in which he said he wished he could duel Gattine.
“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,” he said, according to the Press Herald. “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, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this Legislature to help move the state forward.”
LePage and Gattine have clashed on a number of issues, according to the Press Herald, including the governor’s effort to get rid of food stamps in his state.
LePage’s voicemail prompted Westbrook’s mayor, council president and school committee chair to write an open letter to the people of Maine condemning their governor.
“Once more Governor LePage has humiliated himself and the Office of the Governor. He continues to again embarrass the citizens of this wonderful State,” they wrote. “LePage’s voicemail to Representative Gattine is so outrageous it is beyond our ability to know how to respond. Furthermore, his threat to want to ‘shoot him between the eyes’ would be reprehensible coming from anybody, but from the individual holding the position of Governor of our State is insanity.”
Democratic leaders in the state legislature said the comments showed LePage was not fit to hold office.
Gattine wasn’t the only target of LePage this week. On Wednesday, he called Khizr Khan, the father of a killed American soldier, a “con artist” for criticizing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
This post has been updated with a statement LePage released Friday and a letter from officials in Westbrook to the people of Maine.