Despite working with 2nd Congressional District candidate Jared Golden this year to help returning military medics, Republican Gov. Paul LePage assailed the Lewiston Democrat on Thursday as a partisan do-nothing.

Speaking on Portland radio station WGAN, LePage said Golden told “a bald-faced lie” in a radio ad that mentioned their cooperation on legislation.

But the record shows the pair teamed up this past summer to get a law on the books to streamline state licensing for medics leaving military service.

After LePage rejected a bill that Golden had pushed, the lawmaker read LePage’s July 2 veto letter carefully and decided the governor’s objections had merit.

He asked LePage if he wanted to offer a special measure that addressed his concerns rather than let the issue drop.

“I see no reason why it could not easily pass both the House and Senate in a single day to be placed on your desk in the form that you support,” Golden wrote on July 5. He offered to sponsor the governor’s version or to let a Republican colleague serve as sponsor.

“That sounds like a plan,” responded Julie Rabinowitz, the governor’s press secretary, in a July 6 email provided by Golden’s campaign.

LePage took him up on the deal and allowed Golden to serve as House sponsor of the governor’s bill.

Legislators approved the new version and it’s now state law.

Golden said at the time, “I really appreciate the governor’s commitment to creating opportunities for returning service members to get good jobs in Maine.

“We don’t agree on everything, but we worked together on this, and veterans who need to make the transition back to civilian life will benefit,” Golden said. “This is how politics should work for the good of the people. He really did the right thing, as he and his wife often have for Maine’s veterans.”

Despite that cooperation, LePage took to the airwaves Thursday and blasted Golden as “an empty suit” who “has done nothing” during his four years in Augusta.

Golden responded, “It seems the governor is letting partisanship block his ability to share in credit for doing something good.”

In his talk on the radio, LePage said Golden will lose handily to U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican. Polls indicate Poliquin is in one of the closest races in the country, but LePage said he believes the two-term incumbent “wins rather easily.”

Golden had a rocky relationship with the governor from the start. In his first year in Augusta, LePage included the rookie lawmaker among a group who “should be shot” for pushing passenger rail service to the Lewiston-Auburn community.

It’s not the first time the governor has ripped into Golden, the Democratic House whip.

In May, during a visit to Lewiston, LePage said, “Golden says the Marines taught him to always get the job done. I have no doubt that he made a fine Marine, and I thank him for his service to our country.

“But in Augusta, Golden has not gotten the job done – not by a long shot,” LePage said.

LePage ripped into Golden this week after hearing a radio advertisement citing Golden’s efforts to work with the governor.

LePage said Golden came to his office once in four years to talk about how to address student debt and a military-related issue that he didn’t specify.

On the student debt issue, LePage said, “we were so far apart” on what to do that “we were not able to work on it. And that was the end of the gig.”

LePage said Golden’s use of that unsuccessful effort as an example of cooperation across party lines “is a bald-faced lie.”

But Golden said the record shows he’s worked successfully with LePage on a couple of veterans issues.

The governor said Golden has merely done his party’s bidding and voted with the Democratic leadership 99.9 percent of the time.

LePage said Golden has not delivered “any meaningful legislation.”

Hours later, at a ceremony in Lewiston, Greg Payne, director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, told a small crowd that Golden led the effort to create a $4 million state lead-abatement program that will help prevent children in Maine from getting lead poisoning.

Steve Collins can be contacted at:

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