PORTLAND, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage will be giving a public talk at the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus on April 18, a university official said.
The event will be from 6 to 7 p.m. in Hannaford Hall at 88 Bedford St., according to USM spokesman Robert Stein. LePage has been holding regular town hall forums in support of his proposed budget over past months, and although he’s visited nearby suburbs, the event will be his first public forum in Maine’s largest city since 2015.
The Republican governor is coming to USM at the invitation of a conservative student group, Young Americans for Freedom, that in February hosted a talk by controversial state Rep. Lawrence Lockman, R-Amherst.
The visit is not an official part of LePage’s town hall circuit, according to Stein and LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett. Young Americans for Freedom head Benjamin Bussiere described the event as a town hall.
LePage is scheduled talk about welfare reform, his budget proposal and tax and energy policy before taking questions for at least 15 minutes, Bussiere said. The event is open to the general public, according to the student organizer.
LePage has a contentious history with left-leaning Portland that most recently flared up in January, when the governor accused the city of “ breaking the laws” by providing General Assistance benefits to asylum seekers. The governor is seeking to eliminate the basic welfare program as part of his budget proposal — a move that local politicians have sworn to fight.
Beyond that incident, however, LePage’s relationship with Portland appears to have been less hostile since Ethan Strimling replaced Michael Brennan as mayor and former Democratic minority leader Justin Alfond left the Senate.
Bussiere said he invited LePage to speak at USM to counteract what he sees as the repression of conservative views on campus. He said he was hopeful that the event will not prove as contentious as Lockman’s visit, but Bussiere said he expects protesters.
People interested in attending LePage’s talk can register here.