Portland Press Herald columnist Alan Caron says Republican Gov. Paul LePage isn’t the worst governor in Maine’s history, but he’s a close comparison to Gov. Ralph O. Brewster — a man notorious for his ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
“Ralph Owen Brewster is a closer comparison to LePage,” Caron wrote in a column published Thursday. “Elected in 1924, Brewster was strongly supported by the Ku Klux Klan, which then occupied the anti-immigrant, anti-poor far right of the political spectrum in the same way that the tea party does today.”
According to his LinkedIn profile, Caron is the president of Envision Maine and a Partner at the Portland-based Caron & Egan Consulting Group. He is a regular columnist for the liberal-leaning Press Herald.
Brewster, a native of Dexter and a graduate of Bowdoin College, never openly acknowledged his involvement in or shared sympathies with the KKK, but his political opponents and many within his own party loudly accused him sharing the KKK’s beliefs. That KKK members openly supported and campaigned for Brewster is beyond dispute.
Caron does offer reserved praise for LePage, despite the inflammatory comparison to Brewster. “In fairness, LePage has done some things that deserve muted applause,” he writes. “He stopped the practice of using Maine’s hospitals as credit cards. He made some changes to the underfunded state pension plan.”
A small irony of history is apparently lost on Caron. Brewster’s critics allege that his support of legislation to ban state aid to parochial (i.e. Catholic) schools was a sign of his anti-Catholic KKK sympathies. However, LePage proposed allowing state aid to support the education of students attending parochial schools — a policy liberal Democrats, in a very Brewster-like fashion, found abhorrent.
Despite LePage’s successful effort to repay Maine’s hospitals and reform the state pension system, Caron still concludes that LePage is a close second in the contest for worst Maine governor ever.
“So who is Maine’s worst governor ever?” Caron asks. “Sorry, LePage-haters. It’s Brewster by a nose.”