There were dueling rallies at the capitol yesterday, one organized by conservative groups to press lawmakers to uphold Governor Paul LePage’s veto of the budget, the other urging legislators to investigate and impeach the governor.
The anti-LePage gathering, which was organized following his threatening of funding for at-risk students at a school rung by Good Will-Hinckley in order to force the firing of his political rival, House Speaker Mark Eves, was far larger than the pro-LePage event. Bangor Daily News reporter Mario Moretto described attendance as “some 200 people” at the rally outside the Capitol, while the pro-LePage contingent numbered “several dozen” inside the State House Hall of Flags. Blogger Andi Parkinson put the numbers at 300 and 75, respectively.
This difference came despite the fact that the anti-LePage rally was a spontaneous effort that sprang up on Facebook, not organized by any progressive group, while the pro-LePage event was led by a coalition of conservative organizations, including the Maine Heritage Policy Center, the so-called Informed Women’s Network and the Maine Citizens Coalition, who all worked to get their members and supporters to attend.
The outcomes of the actions promoted by the groups were similarly divergent. While bipartisan coalitions of lawmakers in both houses of the Legislature successfully overturned the governor’s veto of the budget yesterday, dashing the hopes of the conservative protesters, the Government Oversight Committee will convene today and looks likely to begin an investigation of LePage’s actions in the Good Will-Hinckley affair.