Republican Governor Paul LePage should do himself, his party, and his state a favor by pulling a Sarah Palin and resigning.
There are plenty of advantages for all involved.
First, LePage can finally give in to his wife's pleadings and retire to Florida. There he can relax, far from political foes, the venomous media, and the overly burdensome responsibilities of leadership. He can even write his memoirs, including a large section with pictures you can color. Pick up a copy at Marden's, and you'll get free crayons.
Although, they'll all be red.
Second, LePage's departure would be good for the GOP. Under Maine's Constitution, his replacement would be state Senate President Kevin Raye, a thoughtful and experienced Republican moderate with greater electoral appeal and less baggage than the bombastic LePage. Putting Raye in the Blaine House would give the GOP a better chance of hanging onto control of the Legislature, particularly its shaky majority in the House of Representatives, in the 2012 elections.
Which brings us to advantage number three: Without LePage, the Democrats would have no issues. To date, the donkey party's entire platform has consisted of nothing more than, "We're not him." Although, that probably has more voter appeal than the plank it replaced, which read, "We sorta liked things the way they were when John Baldacci was governor, so we'll be going back to that."
If LePage refuses to do the sensible thing and quit, he's facing the prospect of suffering through the next three and a half years with a severe case of chronic irrelevance. Already, legislative Republicans have ripped apart his regulatory reform package and rewritten it in a form that won't cost a couple of dozen of them any chance at re-election. They got tired of waiting for LePage to draft a health-insurance bill, so they wrote their own. Same thing with tax reform, where they gave up trying to fix the flaws in the governor's measure and decided to start over from scratch.
Now, key members of the GOP are stepping in to make sure LePage doesn't appoint any more cabinet members who are ineligible to serve (Darryl Brown at the Department of Environmental Protection), offensive (Philip Congdon at the Department of Economic and Community Development), or unnecessary distractions (Dan Demeritt, former communications director).
Don't worry, a conciliatory LePage told his fellow party members, I'm personally taking over responsibility for all future ineptness. I can't leave that important chore to idiots and dingbats.
Even so, there's little sign the administration can regain the credibility it's squandered over four-plus months of operating as if it had misplaced its only copy of Running State Government For Dummies. As one Tea Party Republican legislator told me, "I like him. I like what he stands for. But the people who voted for me think he's lost it."
There's almost no chance that message will penetrate the elaborate security apparatus protecting the LePage ego, which continues to send out signals proclaiming imaginary victories. In the midst of the controversies surrounding Brown, Congdon, and Demeritt, the governor issued a press release in which he claimed, "Our Administration has a laser focus on job creation."
In that case, resign. It'll open up a well-paid position for somebody else.