AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage will focus on jobs and the economy in his inaugural address, scheduled to be delivered early Wednesday afternoon.
LePage is scheduled to give remarks at 12:40 p.m. in front of an expected 3,200 dignitaries and guests at the Augusta Civic Center, according to event organizer Brent Littlefield. The inaugural address takes place after about one hour of ceremonies, including LePage taking the oaths of office for the second time.
The entire affair takes place during a joint session of the Maine Legislature. Lawmakers will caravan to the Civic Center after opening their session at the State House earlier Wednesday morning. LePage will be sworn in by Senate President Mike Thibodeau, R-Winterport, who presides over a newly minted Republican majority in the Legislature’s upper body.
By 10 a.m., guests were already filing in to the Civic Center as Downeast Brass played Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual.” The stage was set with a large State of Maine seal, flanked with two big-screen TVs projecting images of the State House. The podium at center stage is a pulpit from East Winthrop Baptist Church.
Among those expected to speak during the inaugural ceremonies are LePage’s wife, Ann, who will give opening remarks on volunteerism and military service. Organizers say that it’s the first time in history a governor’s wife has had a speaking role during inaugural ceremonies.
A benediction is scheduled by Pastor Bob Emrich of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Palmyra. Emrich was a leading opponent of same-sex marriage during referendums in 2009 and 2012.
Dignitaries from several nations, including Canada, Germany, New Zealand, China, Pakistan, Taipei and France, are also expected to be in attendance.
Republican gains in the November elections — and LePage’s convincing re-election victory — should create a celebratory atmosphere for the event and reflect the fact that Republicans view the 2014 election results as a mandate for fiscal responsibility and welfare reform.
While LePage is scheduled to release his proposed biennial budget to lawmakers on Friday, LIttlefield said the governor will keep away from specific policy goals and initiatives in his inaugural address, leaning instead on broad themes of job creation and responsible government.
John McGough, the governor’s chief of staff, said LePage will deliver a State of the State address in early February, which will include more detailed policy proposals.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.