It was September 2009 in Waterville, and I was meeting at the Holiday Inn with the mayor and a couple of his friends. I was pitching Paul LePage to hire me as campaign manager in his run for the Blaine House.

As a veteran marketing man, I was salivating over his “story,” and felt strongly, before almost anyone else, that he could be elected governor.

Charlie Gaunce, a local auto dealer and strong LePage backer, supported the idea of hiring me because he knew about my campaign successes.

I was anxious to run a statewide campaign, and apparently LePage was impressed — he hired me.

We talked political strategy with him for the campaign, wrote an early version of the “Paul LePage story,” tailored position statements about the issues and created his first advertising.

“I love every word you have written.” LePage said. “I’m not going to change a thing.”

We lasted only two months, parting company amicably after a disagreement about who would headline his campaign kick-off event.

I had lined up then-state Sen. Dave Trahan to be the keynote speaker. Trahan had helped gather enough petition signatures to force an eventually successful referendum against an array of sales tax increases.

LePage, however, had other ideas for a keynoter and additional speakers, some of whom I suggested might be too extreme. “They like me and I like them,” he said.

Gaunce agreed with me, but it didn’t matter.

LePage thundered, “It is done!”

“So am I,” was my response.

Our temperaments were too much alike.

After taking care of loose ends, I took my leave with best wishes to the man who would meet his destiny a year later.

Gaby and I headed for a couple of months in Florida.

As the next gubernatorial election approaches, my thoughts wander back to the brief experience that I had with the guy who was fun to have a beer with, but very difficult to get along with.

The experience became a study in a particular type of personality and a precursor of things to come.

Tip-offs were comments such as, “That’s why they call me front-page LePage.(Because of his outrageous remarks.) Or when asked how he ever got along with an all-Democrat Waterville City Council? “I just veto everything,” a strategy he continues to employ at the State House.

LePage is a nice guy, with a big heart, and a bad attitude. Ironically, that’s why his core base still loves him.

The question, however, has become: Can any politician possibly withstand the constant barrage of negative publicity, most of it his own fault, some maybe media bias.

Luckily for LePage, the nation was hit by a Republican tsunami in 2010, and Maine had a fading Democrat candidate and a personally well-funded independent who turned the gubernatorial campaign into a three-way race.

LePage won by 1 percentage point, almost turning victory into defeat at the end, as he resumed his cascade of offensive remarks that continue to this day.

I recall this history as a backdrop to the last election in order to remind those who predict a LePage re-election because of another three-way race. That was then, this is now!

2014 will be different. Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud is no weak major party candidate, therefore independent candidate Eliot Cutler must stand on his own this time.

The governor deserves great credit for his personal success in overcoming child abuse and poverty.

He is indeed a “street fighter,” tenaciously passionate about his political beliefs, but he’s no Chris Christie (a comparison he makes), and he does not present a positive image for Maine’s future.

LePage finally lost me when he irrationally proposed elimination of all state revenue sharing to cities and towns. God help the already burdened property taxpayers, I thought.

The governor’s presence on the 2014 ballot will not be an advantage to a political party in disarray nationally and here at home.

We already have seen Democrat candidates win special elections by successfully “morphing” Republican candidates into the governor.

But, wait a minute, didn’t a potential “game-changer” in the race occur when Michaud declared that he is gay?

The favored Maine gubernatorial candidate immediately gained nationwide press attention as potentially the first openly gay governor in the country, if elected.

Before this latest political twist, I felt sure that voters in 2014 would provide the impetus for a richly deserved peaceful retirement and hopefully long life for LePage and his family at their Florida property.

Now, I wonder, did LePage just get lucky again, or could people not care less about his Democrat opponent’s personal life? An immediate poll after Michaud’s announcement maintained his frontrunner status — by 2 percentage points.

Don Roberts is a former city councilor and vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta. He is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District, and a representative to the Legislative Policy Committee of Maine Municipal Association.