AUGUSTA, Maine — Decades ago, delivery truck driver Bruce Myrick took in the homeless Paul LePage when the penniless boy roamed the streets of Lewiston. On Wednesday, Myrick will have a place on the state’s biggest stage as LePage is sworn in as Maine’s newest governor.
That’s one of the highlights of inaugural events that will be simpler than what Mainers are used to — per LePage’s orders — in keeping with the austere mindset brought on by weakened fiscal conditions and LePage’s own style.
“He is very interested in going to work,” said Brent Littlefield, LePage’s inaugural director. “We intend to make this much shorter than inaugurals you’ve seen in the past.”
LePage’s inaugural speech will be less windy than what Mainers are used to, and unlike past Maine governors, he won’t even use a teleprompter to read it.
After all, the Republican who’s being sworn in Wednesday has never been a big, formal orator and likes to speak off-the-cuff, said Littlefield.
“He doesn’t use speech notes often,” said Littlefield, who also serves as LePage’s senior political adviser.
While no figures for the privately funded event’s expenses were available, Littlefield said he’s sure it will be significantly less than for LePage’s recent predecessors, who held more lavish events. More than 4,000 people were expected to attend as of last week, but the number was rising.
For outgoing Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, an evening inauguration in 2003 was followed the next day with an invitation-only Inaugural Gala. Independent Angus King’s inauguration in 1995 was held two days in advance of a gala in an airplane hangar at the Brunswick Naval Air Station. LePage’s activities will all wrap up in a single day in a single place.
The day’s events will start with formalities that make the 62-year-old governor’s swearing-in part of what’s really a constitutionally required legislative function.
A joint House-Senate session will be called to order and the Senate will receive official notification from the secretary of state that an election has been held. The Senate forms a committee to review the results and presumably will conclude LePage won. A delegation of lawmakers will then make the short walk to the Blaine House to inform LePage that he has been elected governor.
His swearing-in at the Augusta Civic Center is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, a break from the traditional evening inaugurations of past governors. LePage also veered from past practice by inviting Baldacci. Baldacci accepted, and LePage’s inaugural planners broadened the invitation to all of the former chief executives, said Littlefield.
LePage’s inaugural speech also will be shorter than what Mainers are used to. Late last week, a 30-minute version was being trimmed further. Littlefield said no major policy initiatives are likely to be announced, but the new governor will revisit some of the major themes of his campaign, such as government restructuring and regulatory reform.
The new governor’s wife, Ann, and their five children will be on the stage as the invocation is given by the Rev. Joseph Daniels of the Corpus Christi Parish, based in Waterville, where LePage served as mayor since 2003. Myrick will make introductory remarks.
Representatives of at least three countries — Canada, France, Britain and perhaps Japan — are expected to attend LePage’s inauguration, and tribal representation from within Maine is expected to be more visible than it has been in the past. Music will be provided by the 195th Maine Army National Guard Band during the event, which will be aired live and taped for later airing on Maine Public Broadcasting Network stations.
Rather than hosting a ball, LePage opted for a same-day reception 7-8:30 p.m., also at the civic center, designed as an opportunity for friends and supporters to greet and congratulate the new governor. Appetizers will be served and there will be a cash bar in what Littlefield described as a “stand-up reception.”
For the first time, those who received mailed invitations were being asked to use RSVP links on the LePage Transition website to retrieve confirmations, similar to airline e-tickets, for attendance.