Back in May, Gov. Paul LePage ended years of speculation that he might run against Sen. Angus King in 2018 with a brief statement through his campaign spokesman. The governor’s political advisor, Brent Littlefield, launched into his usual pablum about the governor achieving the “largest number of private-sector jobs in Maine history” [even though the state has the 7th slowest growing economy in the US] and boasted that LePage delivered the “largest tax cut in Maine history” [which was largely a shift from income taxes to property and sales taxes]. And “while these accomplishments are great,” wrote Littlefield, “there is more to do.” [Like shutting down the government.]

“Therefore the Governor will remain focused on the job at hand and not enter the United States Senate race in 2018.”

And the governor had been sending signals earlier that he wasn’t interested in the job, telling WGAN in April that he ‘‘wouldn’t make a very good legislator” and that committee meetings “would be boring.” But then last week, the governor said he might change his mind after observing the lackluster campaign of the current Republican Senate candidate, state Senator Eric Brakey of Auburn.

“I’m going to watch what Eric Brakey’s doing, and if he doesn’t start resonating pretty quick, there’s a possibility I might change my mind,” LePage said.

On Tuesday, LePage hinted again that he may decide to jump into the race. “I’m looking at it very strongly. There’s a lot of people asking me to run,” he told WVOM radio. “I’m telling you, I’m getting more pressure to run for Senate than I ever did for governor.”

Earlier this month the governor also said he likes to make things up just to get newspapers to write about him, even though he hates the press and wishes it would go away.

Vetoes Tobacco Age Limit & Cell Phone Bill

The governor announced Tuesday that he has vetoed a bill to ban using a mobile device while driving and another one to raise the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21. On the tobacco bill (LD 1170), LePage told WVOM that he didn’t think it was fair to allow 18-year-olds to fight wars but not to buy cigarettes.

“I’m going to tell you, this is just sinful,” said LePage. “It is absolutely sinful and I believe that at 18 they’re mature enough to make the decision. And I’m tired of living in a society where we social engineer our lives.”

On the bill to ban using cell phones while driving (LD 1089), the governor said he is more concerned about women putting on makeup and people eating and drinking while driving. “We have a distracted driver law. We have a texting law,” the governor said. “If they’re not working, let’s find out why they’re not working and make them work.”

WVOM host Chris Greeley, who is also a police chief in Holden, replied that it’s hard to enforce the anti-texting laws because drivers always tell police that they were about to make a phone call or accept a phone call. 

“Well, you know something that’s not quite correct because if you take the phone, you confiscate the phone and you look at it, you can tell whether they’re trying to run a number or a text,” replied LePage. “Because it’s recorded into the phone.”

Greeley replied that police can’t check the phone unless they have a warrant. The governor answered that making new laws isn’t the answer and suggested that a better solution would be to make a new law against driving with one hand.“Let’s fix the laws. Let’s not just add laws,” said Le-Page. “If it’s not working, let’s figure out why it’s not working.… I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a solution to the whole problem. Every driver has to have both hands on the wheel all the time. If you don’t, that’s an offense.”

In other news, Bangor Daily News reported that a Kennebec County District judge has granted a permanent reprieve for Dakota the dog. The four-year-old husky received headlines after Gov. LePage intervened in the case and pardoned the animal after a judge earlier ordered her to be euthanized for killing a dog and attacking another. Under the new deal, Dakota’s life will be spared but she is permanently banned from Waterville. The decision means that her two appeals before the Supreme Court will be dropped and the court won’t have the opportunity to weigh in on whether the governor has the legal authority to pardon a dog in the first place. However, on Tuesday the governor said he intends to “repardon” the dog and go back to court. 

“I’m going to pardon her a second time because what’s happened now is they’re penalizing the dog,” said the governor, “and they should have penalized the owner.”

Can a governor legally “repardon” a dog? Stay tuned!