Looking back on 2010: Maine goes red

Republicans take over Augusta, Portland cops go online, gay rights stay center stage, and more!
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  December 22, 2010

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There were big wins, big defeats, encouraging signs, and disappointments. Here's a look at what Maine enjoyed — and endured — in 2010.


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Governor-elect Paul LePage

As the results rolled in on November 2, the crowd at Champions sports club in Waterville was antsy. Paul LePage's supporters hadn't anticipated the numbers to be so close — the prospect of their Republican candidate barely eking out a win, which is what happened in the wee hours of the next morning, was both unexpected and uncomfortably nerve-racking. After a surprise victory in the June primary, Tea Party-backed LePage led Democrat Libby Mitchell and independent Eliot Cutler in the polls through much of the summer and fall. But in the final days of the 2010 gubernatorial election, Cutler surged; rural Maine votes helped LePage end up on top, with 38 percent of the vote to Cutler's to 37 percent (Mitchell got 19 percent).

The Waterville mayor, who will resign that post before he's inaugurated on January 5, 2011, got to work assembling a transition team that includes big-name conservatives such as Tarren Bragdon of the Maine Heritage Policy Center; Ann Robinson, an attorney and former chair of the Maine Republican Party; and Pete "the Carpenter" Harring, a prominent Tea Party activist in the state. LePage has also made several cabinet appointments, including naming former GOP primary opponent Bill Beardsley as commissioner of the Department of Conservation. (A few people have reportedly turned down cabinet positions because they'd be taking a pay cut from their private-sector jobs.)

In addition to making statements about school consolidation and reducing business regulations, LePage has vowed to join a federal lawsuit opposing a key part of the federal health-care law that requires Americans to purchase health insurance; the LePage transition team did not send a representative to a presentation earlier this month by the state committee charged with creating recommendations for putting the law into action.

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State Theatre

When the State Theatre re-opened in the fall, all shiny and pretty with new seats, a new bar, and restored architectural details, Portland's live-music landscape changed (again). As our own Sam Pfeifle wrote: "The proper strata for bands on the make is finally complete in Portland."

The renovation, a joint effort by New York music company The Bowery Presents and Vermont-based promoter Higher Ground Presents, was eagerly awaited by those who mourned the State's four-year closure. Since My Morning Jacket's grand-opening performance on October 15, the theater has hosted Martin Sexton, Matisyahu, and the Goo Goo Dolls, among other acts. This winter brings Girl Talk, Robyn, and Bright Eyes.

"The State has reintegrated itself quite nicely back into the Portland music community," says Lauren Wayne, the State's general manager, booker, and promoter. "Now not only do bands who sell out Port City [Music Hall] have somewhere to move up to, but Portland is getting some new eyes turned on the city and some new talent coming through as well."


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