Va’s Glenn Youngkin will help Maine’s Paul LePage despite racial rhetoric

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RICHMOND — Gov. Glenn Youngkin plans to travel to Maine this week to campaign for Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage, a two-term former governor who has made inflammatory racist remarks.

A proudly unvarnished politician who claimed he was “Donald Trump before Donald Trump”, LePage caused his most notable uproar in 2016, midway through his second term, with a series of comments about race and drug trafficking. dope.

LePage claimed – incorrectly – that more than 90% of those arrested for drug trafficking in the predominantly white state of Maine were black or Hispanic. He also called blacks and Hispanics “the enemy” and said many out-of-state drug dealers passing through Maine “impregnate a young white girl before they leave.”

As the episode reached its nadir in the summer of 2016, LePage leaving a profanity-laden voicemail for a lawmaker and publicly pining for the days when he could have killed the Democrat in a duel, lawmakers from both parties questioned the Governor’s fitness to perform his dutiesthe Portland Press Herald and news agencies nationwide and abroad reported at the time.

Youngkin is set to headline a fundraiser for LePage in Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday as the Virginia General Assembly convenes for a one-day special session to select a handful of local judges and possibly a member of the State Corporation Commission.

LePage, who has accumulated substantial political victories as Governor despite repeated controversies, seeks to overthrow Governor Janet Mills (D). The race should be competitive.

When asked early last week why the Virginia governor was willing to campaign for LePage given his record of inflammatory comments, Youngkin’s political consultant, Kristin Davison, said, “The governor. Youngkin thinks Republicans make better governors. He will discuss the Democrats’ failure to tackle the cost of living, education and security.

When asked the same question a day later, Youngkin himself said he was unaware of any controversy regarding LePage’s rhetoric, which made national news in 2016 – “The Governor of Maine Is Completely Unhinged, read the headline of a Washington Post op-ed — and which the liberal Blue Virginia blog recapped Aug. 29 under its own hard-to-miss banner: “Glenn Youngkin will campaign for the former Maine governor, extremist and racist, Paul LePage, who among other horrible things said ‘the enemy right now…are people of color or people of Hispanic descent.

From the records: Maine governor has a binder of suspected drug dealers, but 90% of them aren’t black or Hispanic

” I do not know [any] racist statements and therefore I’m not sure that’s accurate,” Youngkin said during a brief meeting with reporters after an economic development event on Wednesday south of Richmond.

At the same time, Youngkin indicated that he was personally involved in choosing his out-of-state appearances and chose where he was, noting that given his responsibilities in Virginia, he had had to “selectively…choose a few places for campaign.”

“As I planned out our fall schedule, what I’m trying to do is help Republicans win,” said Youngkin, who created two political entities to fund campaign trips out of the state. “I believe the philosophy we embrace — small government, low taxes, fiscal responsibility and a growing economy, and really supporting parents and schools for great education and standing up for law enforcement — they all come together to deliver better outcomes for states.

Youngkin is building — and burning — bridges with black voters

Youngkin’s plans to help LePage have outraged Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond), a member of the Legislative Black Caucus who questioned why he would back someone “who has said so much crazy and racist”.

“Anyone with a genuine awareness of the toxicity of this substance would go nowhere near LePage,” said Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth). Although skeptical of Youngkin’s claim that he was unaware of LePage’s rhetoric, Lucas said he could not play the ‘ignorance game’ now that he had been questioned. on this subject.

“Why didn’t he do some research and reprimand him?” she says. “So now he knows, so why is he still going? Because he doesn’t give a wink?

When asked late last week if Youngkin had taken the time to familiarize himself with LePage’s statements, Davison replied in a text message, “He’s been very busy!” His text was also linked to a report on two educational initiatives that Youngkin had unveiled that day.

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“It’s kind of a calculated ignorance,” said Bob Holsworth, a veteran political analyst from Richmond. “The guy [LePage] been in the news for years. It’s impossible that the people setting it up or doing the backgrounds haven’t explored that person’s story.

LePage made waves with aggressive and sometimes foul language throughout his eight years in office – a habit that inspired the Press Herald to compile a list of his “the biggest hits.”

LePage pushed back against allegations of racism over the years, noting that he invited a black teenager from Jamaica to live with his family after the youngster’s father caddyed for the governor during a vacation on the island. LePage campaign spokesman Brent Littlefield took note again on Sunday in response to inquiries from The Washington Post.

“Paul and Ann LePage are the only governors and first ladies in Maine history to have a person of color in their family photo at the governor’s mansion because they brought a young black man into their home to join their family so that may have a chance. for success. Paul and Ann helped him through high school, college and he is a success,” he wrote in an email.

For years, LePage’s advocates have labeled his brutal style a consequence of a difficult childhood marked by poverty, physical abuse and homelessness. Littlefield addressed this theme last month, when the former governor sparked controversy again by threatening to ‘bridge’ a Maine Democratic Party staffer if he got too close while filming the candidate at an event. audience.

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“Paul LePage is not like most people. He was homeless as a child and was forced to live on the streets, overcoming enormous odds to earn an advanced college degree, become a successful businessman, mayor and governor,” Littlefield told the Bangor Daily News after the incident.

Just days after assuming the governorship in 2011, LePage told the NAACP to ‘kiss my ass’ because the civil rights group criticized his decision to skip ceremonies honoring the reverend. Martin Luther King Jr., the newspaper reported at the time. He delivered a memorable blow to a Democratic state senator in 2013, saying he was “the first to give it to the people without supplying Vaseline.”

Youngkin hits Nebraska like a GOP star, but some want him to slow down

LePage faced numerous calls for his resignation in 2016 with a series of comments, starting with a claim that “guys with the names of D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” come from New York and Connecticut to sell heroin in Maine, and “half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave. He later said he was not commenting on the traffickers’ race and that he meant to refer to “Maine women”, not “white” girls.

Months later, LePage told reporters he kept a binder of drug arrests in the state and that “over 90 percent of those photos in my book, and it’s a three-ring binder, are blacks and Hispanics from Waterbury, Conn., the Bronx and Brooklyn (The Press Herald later identified 56 of the people depicted in its book as white.)

LePage also effectively endorsed racial profiling, telling the newspaper, “You’re trying to identify the enemy and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people who come in are people of color or people of ethnic origin. Hispanic.”

Amid the uproar, LePage publicly hinted that he might resign but quickly backed down and served the remainder of his term.

Maine prohibits its governors from serving more than two consecutive terms but does not prohibit a return after a break. LePage won the GOP nomination this year without competition.

Youngkin’s busy out-of-state travel schedule had drawn bipartisan criticism even before he added LePage to the lineup. A political newcomer who sparked 2024 presidential buzz with his victory last year in seemingly blue Virginia, Youngkin appears to be exploring a White House bid and rushing for GOP gubernatorial candidates across the country. to raise its national profile. It hit Nebraska in July, Michigan last month and has so far revealed plans to hit Nevada, Georgia, New Mexico, Oregon and Kansas.

“I’m hoping that maybe he will step up his focus on Commonwealth issues,” Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) told reporters in August.

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