Welcome to the first installment of "The Clone Wars: LePage's Mini Mes Fight for His Third Term", a new, week-long series by the Maine Democratic Party that highlights the failures of Paul LePage's Administration and the Republican gubernatorial candidates' relentless push to continue them. Up first: LePage's failed economy.
While Governor LePage likes to tout Maine's low unemployment rate, what he doesn't often tell Maine people is that -- after more than seven and a half years of his leadership -- Maine's statewide economic performance has been at or near the bottom of the pack nationally.
MaineBiz: “WalletHub’s ‘best and worst’ state economies puts Maine in bottom tier”
And when you look at the facts of our state's recovery under Paul LePage, Maine has recovered slower, had had less economic growth, and has had slower wage growth than many of our New England neighbors or the country as a whole.
Maine Public: “Maine’s economic growth accelerated...But it was the slowest growth rate of any New England state.”
And what's worse? Maine's rural economy has been hit the hardest, with job growth in rural counties lagging behind that of the Portland-area counties -- and experts have projected that 2018 isn't looking much better.
Portland Press Herald: “Mainers eager for respite from a year-end Arctic freeze better not look to the 2018 economy for any signs of warmth - most economists are calling for a tepid year.”
This is why Maine people -- especially rural Mainers -- are still feeling left behind in Paul LePage's economy and are still struggling to make ends meet. That's not right and Mainers deserve better.
But when you talk to Mary Mayhew, Shawn Moody, Garrett Mason, and Ken Fredette, they've all got nothing but praise for LePage and his policies, despite the fact that they have left many behind.
“Moody said LePage ‘worked tirelessly to get our fiscal house in order.’…Moody said he would carry on LePage’s tradition.”
“Mason called LePage the ‘right man for the right time for our state.’… Mason said his voting record was very similar to LePage’s…”
“Mayhew said she was proud of the work she and LePage did…and said she intends to make sure those priorities remained firmly in place.”
“Fredette said his run for governor is based on a theme of ‘Stay The Course,’ meaning follow the economic policies championed for seven years by his party and Gov. Paul LePage.”
When Maine largely lags New England and the nation in economic performance, when Maine people still feel left behind, when the basics of life still feel so far out of reach for so many, why would we want to "stay the course"?
Maine needs bold leadership that will prioritize economic growth and prioritize people -- not more of the same from LePage and his Republican clones.