LePage: Chellie Pingree should resign, John Lewis should thank white presidents

Republican Gov. Paul LePage had tough words Tuesday morning for Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree regarding her decision to skip President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.

“If she won’t attend on Friday, I would advise her to resign,” LePage said during a regular radio interview on WVOM. “To me that’s political rhetoric. Donald Trump is blunt, he comes out and says it the way it is and that’s why he got elected. Chellie Pingree, Angus King … we’re sick of these silver-tongued people.”

LePage’s argument against Pingree is that the U.S. Constitution calls on Congress to accept the results of the presidential election and by refusing to attend, Pingree and others are shirking their constitutional duties.

Pingree, who is serving her fifth term representing Maine’s 1st District, announced Monday that she is among dozens of congressional Democrats who will not attend this week’s festivities. Part of her reasoning is Trump’s public spat with Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who has criticized Trump for not being a “legitimate president” in the face of allegations that Russian hackers swayed last year’s election.

LePage also took aim at Lewis — who is a celebrated civil rights crusader — on Tuesday.

“John Lewis ought to look at history,” LePage said. “It was Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves. It was Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant who fought the Jim Crow laws. A simple thank you would suffice.”

But Hayes’ election actually kicked off Jim Crow laws. The governor’s interpretation ignores that and leaves out almost 100 years of history.

Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation in the South, were in place from the late 1870s to the 1960s. Grant’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was largely ignored in the former Confederacy.

Then, Hayes won office under the Compromise of 1877, an informal deal after a contested election that gave him the White House in exchange for promising to pull Northern troops out of the South. It allowed Jim Crow laws to take root. That’s why Lewis and others marched in Alabama in 1965, where he was beaten by state troopers.

LePage, who will attend inauguration ceremonies, also attacked a handful of celebrities, including Rosie O’Donnell and Cher, for criticizing Trump.

“We’ve had to endure your president for eight years,” he said. “We’ve slipped drastically over the past eight years.” — Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd

Help us cover Trump’s inauguration

We’re planning our coverage of the inaugural on Friday, so we’re looking for Mainers who are going to Washington, D.C., to either watch Trump get sworn in or protest him at the Women’s March on Saturday.

If you’re going, fill out this form (it’ll only take a minute) that asks you a few questions and to help our reporters reach Mainers on the ground during this historic transition. If you know someone who’s going, forward this their way (and nudge them to sign up for the Daily Brief). — Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • Collins forms appointments committee: Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins announced Monday that she has formed a Federal Appointments Advisory Committee to evaluate candidates for Senate-confirmed federal positions. The purpose of the committee is to help Collins can advise Trump on Maine-specific appointments such as U.S. marshal and U.S. attorney. The eight-member committee will be chaired by Josh Tardy, a lobbyist and former Republican House minority leader.
  • Joint committee on legal pot: An item on the House calendar for today advances the push for a 17-member legislative committee to deal with the pile of bills proposed relative to the legalization of recreational use of marijuana, which voters approved in November. The committee would resemble other joint committees, with five senators and 12 House members. The order creating it, submitted by Assistant House Majority Leader Jared Golden, D-Lewiston, calls for the committee to be terminated when the current Legislature adjourns.
  • LePage proclaims School Choice Week: The governor proclaimed Jan. 22-28 to be Maine School Choice Week. That aligns will actions by governors in 14 other states, according to a national school choice advocacy group. The move comes after a dustup between Republican Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, and House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, over whether to allow a consideration of a resolution to honor school choice. — Christopher Cousins

Reading list

If you like booze, today is your day

According to nationaldaycalendar.com, today is National Bootlegger’s Day AND National Hot Buttered Rum Day.

While there’s no need to bootleg your liquor anymore, it’s your own fault if you’ve never had a Hot Buttered Rum. Come to think of it, I’ve never had one myself despite the fact it sounds like a fantastic way to warm the core on a cold winter day — if it wasn’t Tuesday. Those national day calendar people need to exercise some moderation. Here’s your soundtrack.Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.