BY TOM BELL

State House Bureau

Eight Republican Senators are criticizing Gov. Paul LePage openly for making demeaning comments about members of the public, and they are urging him to take a more civil tone.

The senators have attached their names to an opinion column that will run in the Kennebec Journal and several other newspapers on Monday.

The column states that the senators feel to compelled to express their “dismay and discomfort” with the tone and with some of LePage’s remarks.

“Were these isolated incidents, we would bite our collective tongues, because we are all human and make mistakes. But, unfortunately, they are not isolated but frequent. Therefore, we feel we must speak out,” the column states.

The column was written by Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta and Sen. Brian Langley Ellsworth.

Six other senators added their names to the column. They are Sen. Thomas Saviello of Wilton, Sen. Chris Rector of Thomaston, Sen. Nichi Farnham of Bangor, Sen. Earle McCormick of West Gardiner, Sen. Roger Sherman of Houlton and Sen. Thomas Martin of Benton.

On LePage’s decision to order the remove of the mural from the Maine Department of Labor, the authors state that the issue represents a legitimate disagreement between the governor and labor.

“But for (LePage) to announce that he would ‘laugh at the idiots’ should they choose to engage in our honored tradition of civil disobedience is another personal attack that only serves to further lower the bar of our public discourse,” the senators say in their column.

Sen. Ronald Collins, R-Wells, who did not sign the letter, said that he and other Republicans who did not sign the letter share some of the same concerns, He said some of LePage’s comments, such as telling the NAACP to “kiss my butt,” have made it more difficult for the Legislature to enact his agenda, which is create jobs and lower taxes.

“He has my support based on his campaign promises,” Collins said. “I’ll work with him,” Collins said, “however, he should pick his battles wisely.”

Chris Hall, a lobbyist for the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in 21 years working as lobbyist he has never seen a group of legislators write a newspaper opinion piece so critical of a governor who was a member of their own party.

Hall said the Republican Party in Maine has a long history of moderation, and this letter is an expression of those values.

Governor’s spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett released a statement Friday night saying there is no problem between the governor and his fellow party members.

“Senate Republicans were simply airing concerns which we feel are relevant,” she wrote in an emailed message, adding that LePage looks forward to moving beyond the distractions that have been the center of attention as of late.

She said the governor’s message to that effect was well received Thursday.

“I think what you’ll find moving forward is a more united front and a more understanding Governor who realizes his words do affect others who are on his side,” she wrote.

Tom Bell — 699 6261

[email protected]

 


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