Paul LePage is Maine’s governor. He also recently called a political opponent — a state representative — and left an expletive-laden, furious voicemail, and later said he would like to shoot and kill that same state representative in a duel.
According to the Portland Press Herald, a TV reporter suggested that State Rep. Drew Gattine, a Democrat, had called LePage, a Republican, a racist, and asked LePage how he felt about it. Upon hearing about it, LePage left Gattine a voicemail with expletives and homophobic insults:
Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker. I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son of a bitch, socialist cocksucker. You… I need you to… Just friggin’. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.
LePage later expanded on his rage to the Portland Press Herald, saying, “When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825. And we would have a duel. That’s how angry I am. And I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you; I would not be [Alexander] Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this legislature to help move the state forward.”
Gattine, who has opposed some of the governor’s welfare reform and “tough-on-crime” efforts in the face of the opioid painkiller and heroin epidemic, denied calling LePage a racist. He also said he was surprised at the voicemail.
“Obviously that message is upsetting, inappropriate, and uncalled for,” Gattine said. “It’s hard to believe it’s from the governor of the state of Maine, but again, we need to stay focused on the drug problem we are facing here in Maine and cannot allow this story to be about the governor’s inappropriate and vulgar behaviors.”
If Gattine had called LePage racist, he wouldn’t be the first to do so. LePage came under fire earlier this year after making racist remarks at a town hall. LePage said:
These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These types of guys, they come from Connecticut and New York. They come up here, they sell their heroin, then they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue that we got to deal with down the road.
The comments, surfaced by Get Right Maine, clearly played on racial overtones by using names typically attributed to black culture and rap, and suggested that black people are outsiders, criminals, drug dealers, and rapists who take advantage of young white women. This racial trope in the war on drugs goes back to at least the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when local, state, and federal lawmakers pushed drug laws by suggesting that minority people would lure and harm young white women with drugs.
Gattine reportedly referenced these comments to the TV reporter, calling them racially charged and unhelpful to the cause of solving the state’s opioid crisis. And that led to LePage’s homophobic insults and apparent desire to execute a political opponent.