Woonsocket Call

New Maine governor poses big contrast to predecesso­r

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — For eight years, a Republican governor viewed by critics as a blabbermou­th and bully systematic­ally shifted the course of state government to the right with a take-no-prisoner style.

Maine’s new governor is wasting no time in trying to undo the most visible signs of his legacy.

In her first month, Democrat Janet Mills has rolled out voter-approved Medicaid expansion that former Gov. Paul LePage blocked, attended the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebratio­n hosted by a NAACP chapter LePage once told to “kiss my butt” and replaced his “Open for Business” sign on I-95 with a “Maine Welcome Home” sign. She’s even installing solar panels — something LePage loathed — on the governor’s mansion.

LePage, a businessma­n-turned-governor who called himself “Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular,” won by railing against special interests, smooth-talking politician­s and welfare dependence.

But GOP losses in November have roiled the party, as Democrats enjoying surplus revenues consider Mills’ $8 billion, two-year budget proposal.

For many, Mills’ style is an overdue breath of fresh air. “The general sense in the state is that people are breathing a sigh of relief that you don’t have to worry about what the governor is going to say next,” said Colby College government professor Sandy Maisel, a Democrat. “We might not agree with everything that was said, but at least she’s not embarrassi­ng us.”

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