Maine lawmakers to meet on embattled governor's future

September 1, 2016 11:57 AM EDT

Maine Governor Paul LePage speaks at the 23rd Annual Energy Trade & Technology Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl/File Photo


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(Editor's note: This story contains language in the second paragraph that may offend readers)

BOSTON (Reuters) - Maine legislative leaders are set to meet on Thursday to discuss whether to push for the resignation of Governor Paul LePage, a week after he left an obscenity-laden voicemail for a lawmaker who had criticized him for making racially charged comments.

The meeting comes a day after LePage, a Republican who earlier in the week discussed the possibility of not finishing his term in a radio interview, said he would seek "spiritual counseling" but not resign after calling Democratic State Representative Drew Gattine a "little son-of-a-bitch, socialist cocksucker."

The Democratic speaker of the Maine House, Mark Eves, and the Republican president of Maine Senate, Michael Thibodeau, will be attending the 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) meeting, according to their representatives, as will several lower-ranking members of the legislative leadership.

The state House and Senate both adjourned in April, so the leaders would need to agree on the need for a special session before setting any votes calling for LePage's resignation or censure.

Earlier this year a group of lawmakers started an effort to impeach him, contending the governor overstepped his authority by threatening to withhold funds from a nonprofit group that hired a political rival, but that effort collapsed before making it to the full House.

LePage has been in the national spotlight for making repeated statements blaming out-of-state black and Hispanic people for the heroin trade in Maine. He has rejected any allegations of racism, saying his sole concern is saving lives in the state.

The two-term governor, whose current term extends through 2018, has apologized for the language he used in the voicemail.

Gattine has joined the chorus of lawmakers calling for LePage to step down.

The minority Republican leadership of the House have backed LePage, saying they accept his apology and want to move on.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)



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