Maine Governor Paul LePage admits he's been making outrageous threats this week against heroin dealers, but he says it's the only way to draw attention to his border state's record-breaking drug problem.
"Call me the guillotine governor," he told CBC News on Friday, referring to his earlier suggestion to bring back public executions. "I'll wear it as a badge of honour, because people are finally listening."
Many New Brunswickers love to visit Maine and shop there, but aren't aware of its serious drug problem.
There were 208 deaths attributed to drug overdose in 2014, making it the worst year on record, according to Maine Attorney General Janet Mills. And 2015 was shaping up to be even worse, she had said.
"Nobody pays attention until I get ridiculous," said LePage, who spent years living in New Brunswick, long before he entered politics.
He worked at a mill east of Perth-Andover. Two of his daughters were raised in New Brusnwick, and attended university in the province. Still, many New Brunswickers on the street can't name the governor of Maine.
He is well known in Maine, however. Earlier this week, LePage encouraged Mainers to exercise their constitutional right to carry concealed weapons and shoot down drug dealers.
"Load up and get rid of the drug dealers," said LePage. "Because folks, they're killing our kids."
On a radio show, LePage said it was time to bring in the guillotine to behead drug traffickers and then place bets on where the heads would fall.
"We could have public executions," he said.
LePage has been accused of being racist and bigoted with his choice of words.
"These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These types of guys, they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home," LePage told a crowd in Bridgton at a townhall meeting on Jan. 6.
"Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road," he continued.
Mal Leary, with National Public Radio, describes LePage as more independent than Republican.
He says the governor has a habit of speaking before he thinks.
"He acknowledged in a news conference a week ago, the biggest problem I have is opening up my mouth without using my brain," said Leary.
"It resonates with an awful lot of people who are very concerned about these folks who are coming into the state, bringing in — the governor's favourite word is 'poison' — that's killing Mainers," he said.
"And he gets very emotional and passionate about this issue."
LePage was first elected governor in 2010. He was re-elected in October 2014.