LePage’s endorsement of Trump raises questions

After speaking out against Republican Presidential Candidate and current frontrunner Donald Trump at the Republican Governor’s meeting, saying that Trump would hurt the party and urged the governors present to pen an “open letter” to the American people, Governor LePage has endorsed Trump for president. Additionally, on February 9, the day of the New Hampshire primary, LePage told Bangor’s radio station WVOM “I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump, although he should give me a stipend or he should give me a bonus about starting this whole thing about being outspoken.”

Less than a week after his impassioned pleas, LePage publicly endorsed Trump on a Boston radio show. The governor told radio host Howie Carr: “I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump, before Donald Trump became popular, so I think I should support him since we’re one of the same cloth,” and that Trump could be one of the greatest presidents if he sits down and puts together a good team.”

After being elected in 2010, LePage gained a reputation for being a “straight talking” and tough governor. Earlier this year, he attributed the rising heroin usage in Maine to men with names like “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” who are supposedly coming into the state to sell drugs and impregnating white women.

There is a widespread theory that LePage came out in support of Trump because of his longstanding personal and professional relationship with New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who also endorsed Trump last week. Christie and LePage have been friends since 2011, with LePage exclaiming that he wanted to be the “Chris Christie of Maine.” Christie campaigned for LePage, and has remarked that he considered the Maine governor to be a close friend. Interestingly, when Christie was the head of the Republican Governors Association, which spent over five million dollars in 2014 helping LePage with his re-election. LePage’s statement of support for Trump came out just hours after Christie’s.

Although LePage’s spokesperson Peter Steele would not remark on whether or not Christie had a role in LePage’s endorsement decision, he told the Portland Press Herald that LePage has been reached out to by other Republican candidates after Christie, his first choice, dropped out of the race. He added that LePage chose to support Trump because they are both from business backgrounds.

Christie has been accused of practicing transactional politics several times in the past, even including his endorsement of Trump, as Trump’s son has remarked on Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures that Christie could have a position in the Justice Department waiting for him, presumably the position of Attorney General.

LePage’s decision to endorse Trump has raised controversy on Colby’s campus. Chris Shorey ’16, president of the Colby Republicans, told The Echo,  “Governor LePage’s endorsement of Mr. Trump is unexpected, but not surprising… upon weighing the political gains versus the political losses of opposing Mr. Trump, Governor LePage quickly changed his tune…. if this problem persists, it could have dire ramifications for both the health and future of the GOP.” LePage’s endorsement hit close to home for Colby; LePage got his start in Maine politics in Waterville, starting with a position on city council and then with two terms as Waterville’s mayor. LePage was also just on Colby’s campus in December, throwing his support behind the Colby-Waterville partnership for downtown revitalization.

Although there has been no official speculation of LePage’s motives behind his endorsement of Donald Trump for president, he remarked “I have to stay loyal to my guy [Christie] because if it wasn’t for my guy, I wouldn’t be here.”

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