Maine on edge as right-wing 'authoritarian' former governor Paul LePage plots his return
Gov. Paul LePage (YouTube/screen grab)

Maine's bombastic former governor Paul LePage has returned to the state in hopes of winning back his old job, and both Democrats and Republicans are unhappy about it.

The foul-mouthed former governor retired to Florida after term limits ended his tenure in 2018, but LePage -- who called himself "Donald Trump before Donald Trump" -- launched a challenge to Democratic incumbent Gov. Janet Mills, who handily defeated his hand-picked successor three years ago, reported Politico.

"[LePage's] style of politics is dangerous and his policies are dangerous, and together they make him doubly dangerous," said Democratic political operative David Farmer. "I just hope that our politics have turned after eight years of LePage and four years of Trump and that those calls to our ugliest side aren't answered anymore."

Even some Republicans are worried about his return to Main politics.

"There was nothing in his background that would have led a thinking person to think he would be good for the state of Maine, other than his rhetoric about lower taxes and less government intrusion," said GOP political consultant Lance Dutson. "All of us jerks who thought we knew everything laughed behind our hand at him."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has already endorsed LePage, who declared her political career finished in 2016 for insufficiently loyalty to Trump, and his newly launched campaign has quickly energized the right-wing GOP base.

"LePage needs to shore up his base, and it's made up of white supremacists, anti-vaxxers, QAnon believers and hardcore conservatives who believe the 2020 election was stolen and are pushing for some sort of authoritarian rule," said former journalist Andy O'Brien, who now tracks and exposes extremist groups, "and Paul LePage is a very authoritarian person. I don't think this next year is going to be pretty."

The state's Republican Party has changed dramatically since LePage was first elected in 2010, and after four years of Trump -- and the Waldo County GOP banned two former state legislators from running for office because they had turned against the former president before the 2020 election.

"The party has been almost completely replaced from what I recognize, or have ever known, as the Republican Party," said former state Senate president Kevin Raye, one of the lawmakers who was banned. "Many of the people who were involved, and activists who worked in the trenches for years, are no longer even involved in the party."