MOUNT DESERT — The same day Gov. Paul LePage announced on a talk radio station that he would consider resigning, he was spotted at the Somesville One Stop convenience store.
The governor’s appearance inside the store was confirmed by store manager John Wood.
Phone and email messages left for LePage’s Press Secretary Adrienne Bennett and Communications Director Peter Steele seeking comment on the purpose of the Tuesday visit were not returned by press time.
Tuesday was a busy day for LePage, who recently came under fire for an obscenity-filled phone message he left for Democratic state legislator Drew Gattine and racist remarks he made concerning out-of-state drug dealers. LePage also talked about challenging Gattine to a duel and aiming “right between his eyes.”
On Tuesday morning, during his weekly appearance on Bangor radio station WVOM, the governor apologized for the message he left for Gattine, of Westbrook, and indicated that “maybe it’s time to move on.” Hours later, LePage recanted, posting in his Twitter account that “The reports of my political demise are greatly exaggerated.”
Early Tuesday afternoon, LePage was in Baileyville, a Washington County town on the Canadian border, where he visited St. Croix Tissue to mark the completion of two new tissue machines, which created 80 new jobs. For some reason, the governor detoured from the main route back to Augusta to make a stop on Mount Desert Island.
Rob Levin of Bar Harbor was one of the people to see LePage in Somesville. He said he had been listening to a story on Maine Public Radio regarding LePage’s recent remarks as he drove into the store’s parking lot shortly before 6 p.m. He briefly was taken aback by seeing the governor in the store.
“I shook his hand and introduced myself,” Levin, a former Islander reporter, said. “I told him I believed his comments [to Gattine] were out of line and that he should resign.”
“He said, ‘Thank you,’” Levin said, adding that they did not speak further.
Levin said he felt it was his “civic duty” to confront LePage and express his displeasure with the governor’s actions.
LePage’s staff didn’t comment on why he was at the Somesville One Stop. Levin has a theory. “I think he had to use the bathroom,” Levin said.
On Wednesday back in Augusta, LePage, barring newspaper reporters from the room, told a select group of television reporters that he would not be resigning. He also held a private meeting with Gattine. Gattine confirmed that LePage apologized for his rant, according to press accounts. The representative continued that he still believed LePage should resign.