Rep. Joe Brooks, a Winterport independent and former Democrat who's starting his fourth session, said they were "wholly inappropriate." A former Bangor Daily News Bureau chief at the State House, Brooks said, "Even though I've seen a great deal of consternation between the parties ... I've never seen this much distance between the majority party and the chief executive."
LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett played down worries about sour relations between the governor and Legislature, noting that the governor's senior staff "is in constant contact with the Democrat leadership."
"We have to find a way to move forward together. We know there are differences ideologically," said Bennett. "We have to bridge that gap."
Democrats, despite their feel-good rhetoric, have been quick to take potshots at LePage. When the figures were not yet final on a spending curtailment plan being prepared for the governor, the new Democratic leaders, House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick and Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland, expressed shock that LePage had not looped them in on his plan.
Democrats had no intention of recalling their video tracker despite the governor's displeasure, said Ben Grant, Maine Democratic party chairman.
"This thing with the tracker is petty," said Grant.
He also pointed out that some early-session antagonism can be expected, given the partisan divide between the legislative and executive branches.
"This is the first time we've had a split government in quite a long time," said Grant. "This is new territory for almost everybody here."
There's still time for the two sides to ease the partisan stress, and leaders from both sides said on opening day they hope that happens. And Alfond extended an olive branch to LePage by inviting the governor and his wife to dinner at a restaurant of LePage's choosing.
"Even as we meet here today, there are those on both sides spoiling for a fight, and expecting the worst -- a showdown in Augusta between the Blaine House and the Legislature," Alfond told senators Wednesday. "I say let's disappoint them.
"Let's show the people of Maine what can happen when we seek common ground."
Senate Republican Leader Michael Thibodeau of Winterport reminded senators that the two parties had to cooperate in order to balance nearly all budget documents last session.
"Balancing the state budget following the recent shortfalls promises to be one of the top priorities for the 126th Legislature. But I am confident that we can work with our Democratic colleagues to achieve real solutions for the people of Maine," Thibodeau said. Statements reflecting similar sentiments came from House leaders.