Sen. Alfond: GOP failed leadership test posed by Gov. LePage

Posted: September 02, 2016 | Senator Alfond, Weekly Radio Address

Gov. Paul LePage’s behavior and words have grown increasingly erratic, irresponsible and dangerous. They threaten any return to stable, functioning government, and he must be held accountable.

Hi, this is Justin Alfond, leader of the Maine Senate Democrats.

By now, you’ve all read about the governor’s hateful language about people of color. He has stoked the fires of racism, and advanced dangerous, inaccurate stereotypes that have long been promoted by racist extremists.

You’ve undoubtedly heard about the governor’s violent fantasies about killing one of my fellow legislators. And I’m sure you’ve heard about the obscene, homophobic voicemail that he left for that same lawmaker.

This behavior isn’t just shocking. It raises serious questions about the governor’s capacity to lead. Maine needs a chief executive capable of handling the difficulties and stress that come with the job. What important decision will the governor be making on behalf of our state the next time he has one of these out-of-control, rage-filled episodes?

The best and most graceful solution would be for Gov. LePage to recognize he is no longer fit to serve and to resign. That would save the state from any further embarrassment caused by his endless cycle of controversy and feigned apology.

But that would require real self-assessment and a sincere understanding that he has crossed the line. Sadly, we’ve seen no evidence that he is capable of that kind of reflection.

The Legislature also has the authority to act. Democrats have called for lawmakers to reconvene in a special session to hold the governor accountable.

Negotiations were underway to bring the House and Senate back into session. But on Friday, Senate President Michael Thibodeau torpedoed any chance of returning to Augusta. He refused to call the Senate back into session, slamming the door on any possibility of action, and ensuring the governor would face no consequences.

Anyone in the private sector who behaved the way Gov. LePage did would face serious repercussions. We had a real chance to make sure the governor played by the same rules as everyone else. That’s what our constituents are demanding. Republicans blocked that chance.

For six years, Republicans have enabled the governor. They’ve defended him through all his controversies. This time, he crossed the line. If there was any time for them to finally act, to finally say, “Enough is enough,” this was it.

Anyone who has watched this governor for six years knows we will find ourselves in this place again. Maine’s reputation and economy will continue to be threatened by his actions. Maine’s government will continue to reel from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.

This was a time to lead. And Republicans weren’t up to the task.

This is Senator Justin Alfond. Thanks for listening.