AUGUSTA, Maine — Ben Chin, a candidate running for the Lewiston mayor’s office and the political engagement director for the Maine People’s Alliance, has accepted Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s offer for a debate over LePage’s proposed budget.

LePage suggested he would participate in a debate with the left-leaning political advocacy group last week, when he told the State House press corps he wasn’t backing away from a public discussion around his proposed two-year, $6.57 billion state budget proposal.

LePage said he wanted the forum with the alliance “so everyone can get both sides and we can have civil discourse.”

LePage made the statement after an incident during a Saco budget forum at which a former state lawmaker tossed a jar of Vaseline on stage beside LePage while she was being escorted out of the building.

In a video posted Tuesday on Facebook, Chin said he would be happy debate LePage.

“I think it is completely wrong to deny General Assistance to asylum seekers, I think it’s wrong to deny prescription drug assistance to 40,000 elderly and people with disabilities, I think it’s wrong to go backwards on education funding,” Chin said in the post. “I think it’s wrong to do all of that in order to give the top one percent an average of $10,000 in tax breaks.”

Chin goes on to challenge LePage to “stop by” the alliance’s Lewiston offices or call him. “We are ready for you,” Chin said. “Let’s do this debate. Anytime. Anywhere.”

It’s unclear whether LePage watched Chin’s challenge or not.

Members of LePage’s communication’s staff declined comment on the challenge Tuesday, noting LePage is on vacation in Jamaica.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the video already had been watched more than 1,000 times, according to statistics on Facebook.

Scott Thistle

Scott Thistle is the State Politics Editor for the Lewiston Sun Journal. He has covered federal, state and local politics in Maine for nearly two decades.