When Governor Paul LePage returned to the Blaine House after his Jamaican vacation on Monday, he got a special welcome-home gift: an oversized card, signed by 1300 of his constituents (plus some balloons and Jamaican Me Crazy coffee!).
"Welcome home," the card read. "We hope you enjoyed your vacation, and that you have had some time to consider the needs of all Maine's citizens while you were gone — especially the 61% of us who did not vote for you last November."
The card was delivered by a small contingent of Maine's Majority — the independent campaign behind the oval stickers (you've seen them on people's cars) with "61%" emblazoned over a blue silhouette of Maine. This is the same entity that sent more than 1000 "virtual faxes" (e-mails, with the word "fax" displayed at the top) to LePage's office within 24 hours after he told the press that a single anonymous fax had been behind his now-infamous mural decision.
This type of "rapid-response" action "gives people something to do beyond feeling powerless and sitting around and complaining," says Chris Korzen, a political activist who co-founded Maine's Majority in December as simple Facebook group called "We are the 61% of Maine that did not vote for Paul LePage." In just six weeks, the page had more than 5000 members; now, they're just shy of hitting 10,000 — one of the largest political Facebook presences in Maine. They've sold more than 10,000 bumper stickers to people who believe that although LePage was elected with just 39 percent of the vote last November, he's governing as if he had a mandate. (Governor John Baldacci was elected with 38 percent of the vote in 2006, Korzen acknowledges, "but Baldacci didn't govern as though he had this overwhelming mandate.")
Right now, Korzen and his co-founder, Jack Woods, are focused on trying to "stop as much of the damage as possible" during this legislative session, particularly on issues like workers' rights, the environment, and the influence of special interests in the political process. They'll be trying to engage and increase visibility for Mainers who feel disenfranchised in certain legislative districts — places where member-volunteers are eager to try to sway some Republican votes. While Korzen declines to say which districts are being targeted, he does acknowledge that some do overlap with those of the eight Republican senators who publicly criticized LePage's tone earlier this month.
Korzen believes that the education process about "just who the governor is, what he represents, and how he represents our state nationally," is reaching its zenith; he hopes that now, people "can pivot toward actually addressing some of the policy proposals [LePage] is trying to advance."