Maine governor: I may resign after GOP abandoned me

Important political safety tip: sending angry and threatening voice-mail messages turns out to be a disastrous career move. Thanks, Egon. Paul LePage, the embattled governor of Maine, told a local radio station that he’s considering resigning from office after the Republican Party abandoned him following his latest controversial remarks:

The besieged Republican governor of Maine hinted Tuesday morning that he might not finish out his term, suggesting that he had lost the support of his own party with his latest tirades of obscene, threatening and racially charged remarks.

Gov. Paul R. LePage, speaking on WVOM, a local radio station, on Tuesday, said he was looking at “options” after a meeting Monday night with Republican lawmakers at which he told them he would consider taking “corrective action.”

“It’s really one thing to have one party behind you,” Mr. LePage said on the radio. “It’s another thing not to have any party behind you.”

At least this is a step up from LePage’s first reaction, which was to call for a duel. LePage has since become more apologetic, but the state GOP has had enough of its, er, colorful leader. Republican state senators met with him, according to LePage, to set some demands on his future behavior in exchange for offering him any further support. They framed the demands as “corrective action” to restore confidence in his leadership:

Senate President Mike Thibodeau of Winterport and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport spoke with the governor at the Blaine House for about 90 minutes, said Thibodeau spokesman Jim Cyr.

“The governor told leadership he was going to be speaking with his closest friends and family about the corrective action that Thibodeau was talking about (earlier in the day) and he would get back to leadership (Tuesday),” Cyr said.

After the meeting, which also was attended by House Assistant Minority Leader Ellie Espling of New Gloucester, Thibodeau told television reporters, “The ball is now in the governor’s court.”

Looks like the GOP leadership might ace LePage out of the governor’s mansion. LePage told WVOM that there were some demands that “I just can’t do,” which has him in mind of resigning.

What happens in case of resignation? According to the state constitution, Thibodeau becomes acting governor, which keeps the seat with the GOP, at least briefly. The language appears to call for a special election in the upcoming biennial election, with Thibodeau remaining in control of the executive branch until the normal swearing-in date of the second week of January. A special election with ten weeks to do will set off a massive circus within Maine and will overshadow all of the other races there, including the presidential election. Normally, the office would not be up for election until 2018, and LePage would be term-limited out of the office at that point anyway.

Put simply, a LePage resignation would be a mess — but perhaps less of a mess than LePage’s governorship at this point. Democrats smell blood in the water and want legislative action to remove him. If Republicans have washed their hands of LePage, Democrats may get their wish one way or the other. Stay tuned.