Spending

Maine government accused of spending like a ‘drunken sailor’ as candidates clash during debate

Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) squared off with her Republican opponent, former Gov. Paul LePage, on Monday night for their second televised debate just weeks away from the November midterms.

The debate, held at CBS13 studios in Portland, Maine, touched on familiar themes from this election cycle, including the high cost of living, abortion and education.

LR: Paul LePage, Republican candidate for governor of Maine and Democratic governor Janet Mills.
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

In a fiery exchange, LePage, who served as governor of Maine from 2011 to 2019, accused his opponent of “spending like cash like a drunken sailor.”

“The only difference is that a drunken sailor spends his own money,” LePage said, to which the governor shot back, “It’s amazing to suggest giving people money to help fight inflation – which is one of the best inflation-fighting measures in the country – is kind of a gimmick.”

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“I’m sorry, Governor, I don’t know what school of economics you went to, but putting money into a booming economy only raises inflation, not lowers it,” replied The page. “If you wanted to reduce inflation, the best way to do that is to reduce income tax and make it retroactive to 2021.”

Mills said there were inflationary factors beyond his control, namely Russian Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which drove up oil and food prices.

Former Maine Governor and 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage (right) and GOP Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire (center) visit Messer Truck Equipment in Westbrook, Maine on July 13, 2022

Former Maine Governor and 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidate Paul LePage (right) and GOP Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire (center) visit Messer Truck Equipment in Westbrook, Maine on July 13, 2022
(Fox News)

“I can’t control the formula issues and other bird flu issues, but what I can do is help put money back in the pockets of the people of Maine and that’s what we did,” she said.

LePage pledged to repeal laws governing the fossil fuel industry, saying, “I’ll go where the oil is.”

“In my lifetime, and in the lifetime of this governor, we will not see ourselves without oil,” LePage said. “What we’ll see ourselves is working to minimize oil and develop the technologies of the future. Make sure they’re ready for prime time before you start paying 30 cents per kilowatt hour for the electricity.”

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Mills denied ever raising or supporting gas tax increases and blamed energy price increases on “our reliance on fossil fuels. Plain and simple.”

FILE: Maine Gov.  Janet Mills delivers her state of the state address at the Maine State House on Thursday.

FILE: Maine Gov. Janet Mills delivers her state of the state address at the Maine State House on Thursday.
(Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

On abortion, Mills reaffirmed her pro-choice stance, saying she would make no changes to state laws codifying Roe v. Wade. LePage, who identifies as pro-life, was more evasive, saying he would not change the law.

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CBS13’s Gregg Lagerquist and The Bangor Daily News’ Michael Shepard moderated the debate.