Maine Gov. Paul LePage has withdrawn his plans to quit the Pine Tree State's highest office — officially throwing his hat in the ring for a second term and receiving an endorsement from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
For weeks, LePage, a Republican whose controversial shoot-from-the-lip style has gotten him in hot water, had said he was thinking of not seeking another four years.
But he confirmed he'll run in next year's gubernatorial race Tuesday at a fundraiser held in Kennebunkport, where former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara have a summer home.
"There were a lot of cheers. He certainly seems ready to go," Republican state Sen. Andre Cushing told the Portland Press Herald
after the event.
There are no direct quotes from either LePage or Bush as the press was banned from entry. Attempts by the Press Herald and Bangor Daily News to purchase $100 tickets were rebuffed.
LePage has had an often-contentious relationship with journalists who have reported on his incendiary, sometimes vulgar quips.
Last month, "the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline."
And he infuriated Jewish groups by labeling the IRS the "new Gestapo."
In May, LePage raised eyebrows when he suggested Americans get their guns out if their constitutional right to freedom of speech is ever stifled. He also once told the Portland branch of the NAACP to "kiss my butt," called protesters "idiots," and referred to government managers as "corrupt."
The press ban roiled Democrats, who say it speaks to LePage's disregard for Maine voters.
“It’s telling when the Governor of a state chooses to use a high dollar fundraiser closed off to the press to announce he’s running for re-election,” said Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant in a statement.
Some have questioned Jeb Bush's participation considering the controversies LePage has been involved in. Salon.com asked in an article, why is “sensible Jeb Bush … fundraising for nutty Paul LePage.”
But Time magazine
called the fundraiser a chance for Bush, who is considering a 2016 presidential run, a chance “to make inroads with more conservative elements of his party.”
LePage's likely opponents in next year's governor's race are independent Eliot Cutler, who finished second to LePage three years ago, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.
A recent poll
showed LePage and Michaud running neck and neck.
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