AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage told reporters in an interview Friday that he is mulling a run for Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s congressional seat and said that any fundraising he has done for the 2014 gubernatorial campaign could be donated to domestic violence causes.
In response to a reporter’s question about whether inflammatory comments he made Thursday about Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, would hurt his gubernatorial campaign, LePage said, “Who said I’m running?”
“I’m considering running for Mike Michaud’s seat if you want to know the truth because it can’t be any worse in Washington than it is here,” LePage said. “Everything’s on the table. Retirement, Social Security, running for Congress, maybe going back to Marden’s to stock shelves, who knows. I don’t take myself as seriously as all you do.”
Jackson released a statement Friday afternoon that said he is also seriously considering a congressional run, which he has said before. He said he wouldn’t make a final decision until the Legislature adjourns, which could be next week. If Jackson wins the 2nd District nomination for Democrats, and LePage becomes the GOP nominee, it would move their adversarial relationship from the State House to the campaign trail.
“I would welcome Gov. LePage’s candidacy and I look forward to the opportunity to put our competing visions for the people of Maine before the voters,” Jackson said. “A matchup between the governor and myself would give voters a stark choice between someone who puts corporate special interests first and a lifelong champion for Maine’s workers and families.”
Numerous people from both ends of the political spectrum have been rumored to be interested in the 2nd Congressional District seat. Some of the most unequivocal statements have come from Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, and Democrat Joseph Baldacci, a Bangor attorney, city councilman and brother of former governor and 2nd District U.S. Rep. John Baldacci.
LePage also offered an apology for comments he made Thursday that targeted Jackson, but his apology wasn’t directed at Jackson.
“It was never my intent to ever, ever suggest that the loggers of the state of Maine are in the same league as Troy Jackson,” LePage said. “I owe that apology. … it wasn’t meant to offend anybody. I will say this: it was intended to wake the Maine people up. We had a balanced budget. We had room to sit down and fix things they’re concerned about. But taxation right now is not appropriate. It is simply not what we need when we’re the 50th worst place in the nation to do business.”
The Maine Democratic Party called on two of Maine’s most prominent Republicans, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, to repudiate LePage’s statements by refusing to attend July 2 fundraiser for the governor in Kennebunkport.
Snowe, the last Republican to represent the 2nd District, responded Friday.
“Gov. LePage’s comments [Thursday] were regrettable and inappropriate,” Snowe wrote in an email to Scott Thistle, state politics editor for the Lewiston Sun Journal. “It is my understanding the governor has now rightly apologized for his language, and I believe that was in everyone’s best interests so that, in the final hours of this legislative session, the governor and the Legislature can get back to working toward policies which, as the governor has put it, would allow ‘Maine people to become more prosperous.’”