Maine's Under-the-Radar Conservative

Posted: Sep 09, 2010 7:07 AM
After November, Maine could boast not just two Republican Senators, but a Republican Governor.  So says left-leaning pollster PPP:
To the list of states where things are looking dreadful for Democrats this fall you can add Maine: Republican Paul LePage leads Democrat Libby Mitchell 43-29 in PPP's first look at the race with independent Eliot Cutler pulling 11%.

The things driving the GOP poll advantage in Maine are the same we're seeing everywhere: a unified Republican base, a lack of interest from Democratic voters, a strong GOP lean with independents, and the specter of an unpopular Democratic President and Governor hanging over the heads of the party's candidates.
Not bad for a "regional," marginal, Southern party.  And lest you think Paul LePage is a squishy, New England-style pol out of the 'wonder twins' mold, think again.

UPDATE: Check out this guy's biography.  Rendered homeless at age 11, he pulled himself up by his bootstraps, put himself through college, earned a Master's degree, and became a successful businessman.  Paul LePage is a walking monument to the American dream.

Seeking more information about LePage's inspirational life story, I contacted a top consultant to his campaign who directed me to a fascinating AP story chronicling LePage's "Dickens-like childhood."  An excerpt:
Paul LePage was just 11 when another beating landed him in the hospital. At his bedside, he said, his father -- a mill-worker whose blows had put him there -- handed him a 50-cent piece.

"He said, 'You're going to see the doctor tomorrow. Just tell him you fell down the stairs,'" LePage recalled.

Right then, LePage decided he would run away.

He hustled on the streets, shining shoes, selling newspapers, begging. He slept at friends' homes, at the stables at the fairgrounds, in an upstairs room at a strip joint. Eventually, kindhearted adults took him. He went to college, then became general manager of a chain of popular surplus stores. A Republican, he later became mayor of heavily Democratic Waterville...

...LePage acknowledges some of his conservative ideals -- he opposes abortion, for example -- may not be popular here. As governor, though, he says his priority would be cutting spending, reducing the size of state government and easing the state's regulatory scheme.

Democrats, for their part, are trying to paint him as an extremist because he had the support of many tea party members and sympathizers, including those who took over the GOP platform at the convention.

"If you come to Waterville, I don't believe that we've done anything that's really wacko. We've lowered our taxes. We've built our rainy day fund. We got a credit upgrade. And we didn't cut services. So if that's wacko, then I'm wacko," he said.

The aide politely told me LePage's campaign is meticulously avoiding the national press (Read: people like me) because its sole focus is on addressing the challenges facing the people of Maine; not becoming a "cause celebre" among conservatives.  Frustrating for a political reporter, but very politically savvy.  Keep an eye on Paul LePage.