AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The election is not until 2014, but in Augusta Thursday there was plenty of talk about it, after a political action group that supports Governor LePage started airing a TV commercial about his plan to pay hospitals which also looked a bit like a campaign ad.
The political group here is called Maine People Before Politics. It was created by supporters of Governor LePage after he was elected, and works to promote his policies.One of those policies, of course, is LePage's proposal to pay off the state's debt to hospitals. But the TV ad clearly blames former Governor John Baldacci...who has talked about running against Gov. Lepage next year.
Like so many political attack ads, Baldacci is shown as the bad guy and Gov. LePage the good guy for pushing his plan to pay the hospital debt. The Governor said today he had no involvement with the ad...
"See I don't know about that. See that's not part of the administration I have not had anything to do with it. You've heard about it? I've heard about it, I've not, I've not seen it."
But the Governor's political advisor Brent Littlefield is also closely involved with Maine People Before Politics, which paid for the TV spot. Littlefield says its all about trying to push the Legislature to pass the hospital plan...not about politics.
Not surprisingly, democrats in the Legislature don't see it that way.
Rep. Mark Eves said today "I think this is really about campaigning and looking forward to the next election. Its really unfortunate the governor has chosen to start campaigning now and it's a distraction from what his budget proposals do and what it will cost."
Democrats say they've agreed to pay the hospital debt this year. The Legislative committee is still trying to work out the details before it can come up for a vote. But republicans say the Governor's supporters are right to force the issue this way..because the other side is also in campaign mode.
As for the hospital bill, there will be more talk about it next week. The Appropriations committee, which heard testimony today about proposed budget cuts for the elderly, will hold three days of hearings on the plan to use liquor money to pay the hospitals. The Governor says he's open to compromise.