Gov. Paul LePage still hasn’t announced whether he’s seeking a second term in the Blaine House, but the governor’s re-election committee seems to be publicly gearing up for next year’s contest.
LePage’s campaign committee Tuesday morning issued a fundraising email taking on one of the possible Democratic contenders for governor: LePage’s predecessor, former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci. The email came about 12 hours before the scheduled start of LePage’s State of the State address.
“I could barely believe my eyes,” the email from LePage begins. “As I looked at the report stating John Baldacci wants to return to the Blaine House.”
LePage hasn’t said for sure whether he’s planning to seek a second term, but he’s had a campaign committee in place and has been raising money for a possible bid. Baldacci, meanwhile, hasn’t yet formed a campaign committee but has said he’s likely to join the fray. He told WCSH 6 reporter Don Carrigan in late January that it’s “more likely than not” he’s going to run.
Independent Eliot Cutler, who lost to LePage in 2010 by fewer than 10,000 votes, is another likely contender. Cutler filed paperwork with the Maine Ethics Commission in late January to form a campaign committee.
And if Baldacci runs, he would face a Democratic primary challenge from Steve Woods, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012 as an independent. Woods recently filed paperwork with the Maine Ethics Commission to form a campaign committee.
LePage’s email continues with a defense of his record as governor and criticism for Baldacci’s tenure:
I remember when I was first elected Governor. John Baldacci was very gracious in handing over the keys. I think he felt a sense that Maine was ready for a change and it was time to move on.
Apparently however that feeling was short lived. He now believes that his ideas – his policies – are what Maine needs now, again.
Let’s remember where Maine came from:
• A government where leaders felt it was normal to have Maine’s working people earning only 80% of the national average income. An economy that for years was sputtering and that has never, ever really reached its full potential. I refused, and still refuse, to let this be the norm.
• A balance sheet held together by duct tape and gimmicks. Furlough days, a liquor contract that was a give away for a quick buck, and a pension debt so large that future retirees might receive IOUs.
• Runaway welfare spending that has been eating up Maine’s budget. Welfare spending much higher than the per person national average – turning Maine from being known as a state where rugged entrepreneurs could survive to one where the government pays able-bodied people not to work.
This is where we found the State of Maine the day I took office.
Despite an overwhelmingly negative news media, a shocked liberal establishment, and a bureaucracy that was not accustomed to change; we have steadily worked to right this ship.
Yes, I get frustrated. Because I know that if we don’t fix these problems for the long term I believe Maine’s children will never have the ability to achieve the American Dream.