The last year has been a tumultuous time for the Maine Republican Party. The State Party chairman Charlie Webster has been the controversial gift that keeps on giving for the media, always lodging his foot in his mouth. When the February caucus disaster left the party in chaos and conflict, he took to the radio waves to denounce the critics as “wing nuts”. These same individuals he would spend the better part of the year denouncing as false Republicans, stating that libertarians did not belong in the party.
Of course, it was Ronald Reagan who said in 1975 that “If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” So in a year that has seen Webster even tell Reagan to posthumously leave the party, there has been yet one bright spot of unification within the party. When the quarreling met it’s peak time and time again, Governor Paul LePage was the one thing that everyone could agree on.
Governor LePage entered the 2010 Republican primaries as the long-shot candidate who nobody thought could pull it off. In a race that involved deep pocketed individuals like Les Otten and party-connected individuals like Steve Abbott, the Waterville Mayor seemed far out there. Carrying a message strong on the Constitution, he was an early supporter of the Tea Party and their principles. He would be elected riding a wave year for the Republican Party, standing out as the most conservative candidate in the primaries.
Beyond the blunt moments and the blowback from the media, he has been productive in tackling waste and corruption in Augusta. There have been untouched problems in government for far too long and with people like former primary opponent Bruce Poliquin leading the charge, work has been accomplished.
One point that should stand out to Ron Paul supporters is regarding LD 1172, “An Act To Prohibit Enforcement of Federal Laws in Violation of the Constitution of the United States.” Nullification, which Congressman Ron Paul himself supports, is the refusal of a State to comply with unconstitutional federal legislation. This law, introduced by State Representative Mel Newendyke (R-Litchfield), was also co-sponsored by fellow State Representative Aaron Libby (R-Waterboro), who endorsed Ron Paul in the primaries and was also endorsed by Paul himself in the general election. When the hearing occurred for this bill, Governor LePage sent a representative in support of the legislation, with only an amendment to remove penalties against government employees. This support came even when Attorney General Bill Schneider stated in his testimony that the legislation was “unconstitutional.”
Another moment of defiance when it came to federal tyranny is implementation of the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.” With the deadline quickly approaching for states to make a decision on the healthcare exchanges, Governor LePage has opted not to comply. In a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, he noted some serious concerns regarding the complexity and uncertainty surrounding the controversial federal legislation, and the negative impact it will likely have on the economy. In addition to that, he stated publicly that he’s “not lifting a finger” to implement the legislation.
The point that stands out most to Ron Paul supporters however, is the National Delegation controversy. At a time when the party’s wounds were starting to heal after a vicious primary season, ousted National Committeewoman Jan Staples and Mitt Romney campaign state chair Peter Cianchette filed a last-minute challenge with the Republican National Committee. The battle would go all the way to Tampa, which saw a bending of party rules by the RNC to split the delegation, with half duly-elected delegates and the other half appointed delegates. Governor LePage saw the injustice in the situation and believed that the delegates who were duly-elected at the State Convention should have been seated. Putting his political life within the party on the line, he stood up and boycotted the National Convention when they refused to seat the original delegation. In this decision he was unwavering, despite the political backlash for his decision.
The question regarding whether Ron Paul supporters and the liberty movement in general should support Governor Paul LePage in his re-election is a no-brainer. Congressman Paul himself has repeatedly voiced his support of nullification and States’ Rights, noting that it would lead to a decreasing size of the federal government. Given that Governor LePage himself is a constitutionalist who is standing up for the rights of Maine under the Tenth Amendment, the connection here is easy to make. Between his stand for the National Delegation and belief in the principles of freedom, it should be an easy decision for Ron Paul supporters to make going into 2014. It is time to rally around Governor Paul LePage in the next gubernatorial election.