© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

LISTEN: Maine's Governor Unleashes Obscenities On Lawmaker Who Criticized Him

Gov. Paul LePage holds a town hall meeting at Biddeford High School on April 19.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette
Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Gov. Paul LePage holds a town hall meeting at Biddeford High School on April 19.

The obscene, threatening voicemail left for Maine Rep. Drew Gattine certainly wasn't anonymous.

"Mr. Gattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage," it began. ""I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you c********r" — a vulgarity referencing fellatio.

"I want you to prove I'm a racist. I've spent my life helping black people and you little son of a bitch, socialist c********r," he continued, using the same expletive, " ... I am after you."

You can hear the whole recording — which, in case you haven't figured it out, is not safe for work — here.

The vulgar voicemail left Thursday was first reported by the Portland Press-Herald. The newspaper also reports that in an interview, LePage said he wished it were 1825 so that he could challenge Gattine to a duel — and that if he did, he wouldn't shoot in the air like Alexander Hamilton.

"I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt," LePage told the Press-Herald.

LePage has since apologized for his language, and said his comments about shooting Gattine were metaphorical. Democratic leaders in Maine, meanwhile, have said the governor is not "mentally or emotionally fit to hold office."

The hostile remarks follow — and are directly linked to — a series of widely-criticized remarks the Republican governor made on race.

LePage, who has a history of rudeness and crudeness, made headlines in January when he talked about drug traffickers with nicknames like "D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty," coming into Maine to sell heroin.

"Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave," he said.

As NPR's Sam Sanders wrote, the statement appeared to reference black men (and particularly ugly stereotypes about black men) to talk about drug problems in a state that is 95 percent white.

Afterward, LePage said the statement was a mistake, and told journalists, "If you want to make it racist, go ahead and do what you want."

The months-old remarks came up again when a resident accused LePage of creating a "toxic environment" in the state — and, as Steve Mistler of member station Maine Public Radio has reported, LePage then "doubled down on the initial comments."

LePage said he kept a binder full of mugshots of people arrested for drug dealing in Maine — and he claimed more than 90 percent of all the photos in his "book" were of black or Hispanic people from Connecticut or New York.

When the resident suggested that the racial makeup LePage described might be the result of racial profiling by police, the governor added that there are also "a whole lot of white girls" in his binder — "white Maine girls," he clarified, in an echo of his controversial January remarks.

Here's what happened next:

On Thursday, Gattine, a Democratic state representative, told a reporter with TV station WMTW that the governor's racially charged comments weren't helpful in battling drug addiction.

The same reporter, David Charns, asked the governor to respond to those remarks. Along the way, Charns said on Twitter, LePage got the impression that Gattine had called him racist.

LePage stormed out of the interview. "Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers," he answered angrily. Over his shoulder, he told Charns, "You make me sick."

Then he called Gattine and invited reporters to sit down for the interview in which he fantasized about a duel with the state representative.

As the original story from the Portland Press-Herald makes clear, LePage wasn't trying to conceal his behavior. It was LePage himself who told reporters about the existence of the voicemail.

And then, of course, there's the way he ends the message itself:

"I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.