After six months out of work, former Gov. Paul LePage is back among the state’s working class. LePage has joined wife Ann working at McSeagulls in Boothbay Harbor this summer. Ann LePage has worked at the restaurant the past four years, but this will her husband’s first time behind the bar in over four decades. As a college student in Bangor and Orono, he worked as a bartender.
After his gubernatorial terms ended, the LePages lived in their winter home in Florida and discussed their summer plans. Ann LePage urged her husband to join her at McSeagulls this summer. “I told him, ‘Let’s do this together and have some fun,’” she said.
So they contacted McSeagulls’ owner Jeff Stoddard about hiring the governor as a summer bartender. For Paul LePage, this meant learning bartending all over again. He remembered in his college days, bartenders served mostly beer, wine, rum and coke and whiskey and ginger. But a whole new breed of drinks has appeared in the past four decades.
But former Gov. LePage is not worried. He is armed with a mixed drink app on his phone. However, there is one drink he is still trying to master. It is one concocted at McSeagulls and named in Gov. LePage’s honor: The Godfather. “First night, I poured rum right up to the rim so there wasn’t any room for the juice,” he said.
Ann LePage will work five days a week and her husband will work a couple nights per week based on Stoddard’s needs. In the past five years, Stoddard has hired three members of the LePage family. Lauren LePage was the first in 2014. Her daughter’s success as a server prompted Ann LePage to act on an urge she’d had for years. “I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to be a server. So I asked Lauren to help me write an email to Jeff,” she said. “I was still First Lady and told him I understood if he didn’t want to hire me.”
Stoddard didn’t have any reservations about hiring the rookie waitress. In her time as a server, Ann LePage has impressed the boss. “She’s an excellent waitress,” Stoddard said. “She pays attention to her customers and gets her orders right. And she is a hard worker.”
And so far the couple is a hit with customers. Stoddard reported customer response is “overwhelmingly positive.” The high-profile bartender is also attracting customers to McSeagulls. On June 21, LePage invited his lawyer for a drink after earlier in the week winning a federal court appeals case. The court ruled in LePage’s favor in a lawsuit filed by former Maine Speaker of the House Mark Eves. In 2015, Eves claimed LePage violated his rights by threatening to withhold funds to Good Will Hinckley School in Hinckley after the school hired him. LePage claimed he had executive immunity from such a claim, and the appeals court ruled on June 19, 6-0, in his favor.
The new bartender is also attracting fans from around the country. Ron Cameron of Riverside, California and Darryl Fitzgerald of Milton, Massachusetts were spending time in Sebago Lake region last week on a family vacation. After reading the former governor was a bartender in Boothbay Harbor, the two left immediately to meet him. “I’m going to Boothbay Harbor come hell or high water,” Cameron said after reading in the Portland Press Herald about LePage’s new job. His nephew, Fitzgerald, has enjoyed listening to LePage on Howie Carr’s radio show.
The two appreciate LePage’s fiscal conservatism and pugnacious and sometimes combative attitude toward political foes. “We came to visit with the governor and his lovely wife,” Fitzgerald said. “We like his political views and find him quite compelling. He is very intelligent and willing to speak his mind. We like that.”
LePage spoke his mind on June 21 in a Boston Herald opinion piece. In a Op-Ed, he criticized state and city of Portland officials handling new asylum seekers. Later in the day, he spoke to Howie Carr on the radio about his concerns. “I’ve been warning people for years about something like this happening. We have seniors, people with mental disabilities and veterans who we have a hard time caring for and this is just going to push them farther back down the line for needed services,” he said.
LePage is also considering running for governor in 2022. He believes Democrat Governor Janet Mills and a Democratic-controlled legislature’s actions have negatively impacted the state’s finances and credit rating. “I’m not ruling it out,” he said. “They’re really damaging the state and what they’re doing in Portland is unconscionable.”
After a week on the job, Paul LePage said he is “having a ball” working a couple of shifts per week with his wife.