PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Republican Gov. Paul LePage has unleashed an obscene tirade on a Democratic legislator, leaving him a voicemail message that said “I am after you,” and telling reporters he wished it were 1825 so he could challenge the legislator to a duel and point a gun between his eyes.
LePage said in the Thursday morning voicemail that he wanted to talk with Rep. Drew Gattine of Westbrook about the legislator calling him a racist. Gattine has denied calling LePage a racist.
“I want you to prove that I’m a racist,” LePage said, adding that he had spent his life helping black people.
LePage was accused of making racially insensitive comments Wednesday at a town hall in North Berwick, where he said photos he had collected in a three-ring binder of drug dealers arrested in the state showed that more than 90 percent of them are black or Hispanic.
House and Senate Democrats and the Maine Democratic Party on Friday questioned LePage’s capacity to lead. LePage’s office didn’t immediately comment.
After leaving the voicemail, LePage later invited reporters to the governor’s mansion, where he confirmed that he had left the message and said he wished he and Gattine could face off in a duel.
“When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” LePage said, according to the Portland Press Herald.
“And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be [Alexander] Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this Legislature to help move the state forward.”
Gattine, who is running for re-election, has clashed with the governor on how to address welfare reform, drug addiction and eligibility for developmental disabilities programs.
Gattine said he wasn’t concerned about his safety, but he called the voicemail a distraction and the latest of LePage’s personal vendettas against lawmakers. Gattine shared the voicemail’s audio with the Press Herald.
“The fact is he sits around fantasizing about having duels with legislators or obsessing over the race of people who are arrested for crimes,” Gattine said.
Democratic US Rep. Chellie Pingree said in a statement that it’s “embarrassing” that LePage is contributing to the “steady loss of civility in politics.”
LePage has a history of drawing attention for his blunt remarks. In January, Paul LePage said drug dealers with names like “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” are getting Maine’s white girls pregnant. He later apologized, saying he meant to say “Maine women” and not “white women.”
LePage has compared his style to that of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, whom he supports, though he recently said Trump was his third choice for president after Chris Christie and Jeb Bush.
“I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular, so I think I should support him since we’re one of the same cloth,” he told radio show host Howie Carr in February. LePage this week called Khizr Khan, the father of a fallen Muslim US Army captain, a “con artist” for criticizing Trump.