Maine lawmakers take the oath of office administered today by Gov. Paul LePage.
A day after criticizing Democratic leaders for hiring a tracker to videotape his public appearances, Gov. LePage used the opening day ceremonies to take another shot.
"I would like to make one slight objection: Next time you hire a paparazzi, would you give the job to a Mainer instead of a person from Massachusetts? Thank you," LePage said.
The governor's staff says the remarks were just a light-hearted attempt to brak the ice, and Republicans in the House responded with a few laughs and snickers. Democrats, however, sat in stony silence. Some later commented that it was the wrong place and time for the governor to bring up the tracker issue again.
But most Democrats said they were also encouraged by the way the governor chose to conclude his remarks during the swearing-in ceremony.
"I pledge to do my best with every ounce of my blood to provide good governance for the people of Maine. I want to work on energy, education and domestic violence are going to be my primary goals in the next two years," LePage said. "I hope that everyone here can join me. If you do fine, if you don't that's fine too. The difference in ideology shouldn't separate us.""
Those were the words that new House Speaker Mark Eves had hoped to hear. In addressing the House as its new presiding officer, Eves said the problems facing the state over the next two years are bigger than any single political party.
"We must work together to get results because the people of Maine entrusted us to do that job and they're counting on us to do what is right for the state of Maine," Eves said.
Eves, and new Senate President Justin Alfond, agree that looming revenue shortfalls and cost overruns will combine to pose the greatest single challenge for the coming year.
Lawmakers also elected Democrats to fill all the three constitutional officer slots. Those new officers are Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap and State Treasurer Neria Douglass.
Photos by A.J. Higgins.