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Maine Governor-elect Janet Mills greeted supporters recently. Mills has vowed to expand Medicaid coverage for poor Mainers.
Maine Governor-elect Janet Mills greeted supporters recently. Mills has vowed to expand Medicaid coverage for poor Mainers.

PORTLAND, Maine — Departing governors and presidents often leave gracious notes welcoming their successors and offering words of encouragement.

Not Governor Paul LePage of Maine.

The irascible Republican said he plans to leave a very different message for Democrat Janet Mills when he leaves Blaine House, the governor’s mansion in Augusta, next month.

“I’m going to leave her a note on the pillow that says, ‘If you mess this up, I’m coming back in 2022,’ ” LePage said recently.

The parting shot was vintage LePage.

The blunt, often bombastic governor once called himself “Trump before there was Trump” and frequently landed in national headlines for his inflammatory remarks.

At the same time, he cut welfare, signed the largest tax cut in Maine history, and presided over robust economic growth, endearing him to many Mainers who helped him win two terms in a purple state.

Now, the state is gearing up for a dramatic shift.

Mills, who frequently sparred with LePage as attorney general and will become the state’s first female governor, has promised to usher in a more civil tone in Augusta and to push many of the policies that LePage opposed.

Most prominently, she has vowed to expand Medicaid coverage for thousands of poor Mainers, a policy that LePage refused to execute despite court orders and the passage of a ballot question last year.

He raised fiscal concerns, saying he would go to jail “before I put the state in red ink.”

Mills said the theme of her inaugural on Jan. 2 will be a “new and better direction,” stressing that Maine is “undivided” and “everybody feels a part of the family.”

“My job going forward is to put a positive face on the state of Maine, to make sure we tell the world what a great place we are,” she said Thursday in Portland, where she was announcing expanded high-speed Internet service.

As for the threat to run against her in 2022 that LePage promised to leave on her pillow, Mills just shrugged. “Who says I’m sleeping in the same bed?” she said.

Portland, ME, United States -- Maine Governor Elect Janet Mills speaks during a press conference at Sea Bags, where the governor spoke about the economic impact of Charter's new gigabit connections in Maine, in Portland, ME on Thursday, December 20, 2018. Sea Bags is a customer for Charter, a cable company that serves Maine. (Yoon S. Byun for the Boston Globe) Slug: 21maine Reporter: Michael Levenson LOID: 8.4.4175526464
Mills said the theme of her inaugural…

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