AUGUSTA, Maine — He has compared the IRS to the Gestapo, accused a political enemy of having “no brains” and a “black heart,” and said critics of his decision to skip an NAACP event should “kiss my butt.”
Governor Paul LePage won election in 2010 running as a brash and provocative outsider, but now, as the Republican prepares to seek a second term, there are signs his tough-guy act is wearing thin.
Elected with 38 percent of the vote in a five-way race amid a Tea Party wave, LePage has become one of the most endangered incumbent governors in the country, with low voter popularity and a slight deficit in the polls.
His defenders say that, as a former manager of a discount chain, he represents workaday Mainers who want lower taxes and smaller government. Democrats and other opponents say he is bent on gutting the safety net for the poor, as they attempt to portray him as an embarrassment to the state. Even some Republicans agree he is a polarizing figure.
“There’s no ‘somewhat,’ in terms of the governor. He’s so divisive that people have very strong opinions,” said Dan Demeritt, a former LePage aide and sometime critic who now works as a political consultant. “He turns the race into a LePage referendum.”
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week