Just call him ‘Front Page LePage’

Posted June 11, 2010, at 8:56 p.m.

No one cares about being the cop reporter when the beat involves everyday, ho-hum breaking-and-entering and theft reports.

It’s the homicides, big fires, hostage situations and other calamities and catastrophes that send reporters running to editors in search of a piece of that front-page action.

That’s sort of how I’ve always felt about political coverage. Long days in dry, stale State House offices reporting on endless legislative initiatives does little to spark any creative journalistic flame I may have.

But I must tell you, if I were still in the active, day-to-day, unbiased reporting business, I would be drooling over the desk of my editor to get into the political action that’s about to commence here in Maine over the next five months and possibly the next four to eight years.

Why?

Paul LePage, i.e. the Dark Horse.

I’m guessing he’ll have other nicknames by the time the November election rolls around — and I’m guessing he’s probably looking forward to them.

Heads across this state are still shaking about LePage’s surprising blowout win in Tuesday’s primary, in which he captured 38 percent of the Republican primary vote out of a field of seven candidates.

Political beliefs aside, one must marvel at that.

Candidate Les Otten, who came in second, ran a high-end ski resort in western Maine and used to be part owner of the Boston Red Sox. He has a well-groomed silver head of hair and a nice tan. Boston Herald columnist and radio talk show host Howie Carr probably would call him one of the “beautiful people.” Otten spent about $2 million, mostly of his own money, to try to capture the vote. He got 17 percent.

LePage runs Marden’s discount retail stores. His hair? Well, he’s got some. He raised or borrowed somewhere around $200,000 for his campaign. Did I mention he captured 38 percent of the vote?

Les Otten talked a lot about jobs, jobs and more jobs and something about his grandfather standing up to Hitler.

There is nothing overly controversial or risky in that message, unless you happen to have liked Hitler.

Here are a few things that LePage said on the campaign trail:

“The government is putting the shackles of economic slavery to each and every one of us.”

When asked about welfare during a televised debate in Portland, he said, “I think there has to be a five-year limit on health and welfare. I think after five years, if you’re still on it, we’ll buy you a bus ticket to Massachusetts where you can start over.”

And during an interview with a member of the press he said, “I’ve heard that some people think I’m a nut case or some kind of wacko.”

In Waterville some call him “Front Page LePage.”

This is not a column about LePage’s conservative fiscal and social views or his chances of getting elected in November.

This is about the unabashed merriment that he is going to bring to the field of reporters covering this race — and if he wins — his administration.

In the journalistic world of court coverage, I would liken it most to controversial Bangor lawyer Julio DeSanctis getting appointed as chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Woweeee!!

I’d work overtime for free. (Oops, that’s right. Most reporters do that already.)

Now trust me, the amount of fun that reporters have in covering anyone or any office is no way to gauge your vote, this is strictly limited to this profession.

If LePage were actually to be elected, I suspect I might tear him from end to end on a number of issues in the coming years.

I certainly wouldn’t say that his campaign involves catastrophe. Certainly not homicide. Nor do I think hostages will be involved.

But there is sure to be some calamity and I suspect a flame or two to either be fanned or extinguished. And I must say, the reporters in the state of Maine who will be there to tell you about it will be having just a little bit of fun.

Truthfully? That’s not a bad job to have, even if you do work overtime for free.

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