August 19, 2019

Nasty cold, laryngitis give governor a sick day

AUGUSTA — Gov. John R. McKernan’s sore throat and laryngitis was so bad the governor dropped all his speaking engagements on Tuesday and was resting at the Blaine House, according to spokesman Willis Lyford.

“He canceled everything today,” said Lyford. “He’s had a severe sore throat and just felt lousy.”

The governor’s ticklish throat began bothering him at the end of last week and he had canceled a planned visit with his wife, Rep. Olympia J. Snowe, to Earth Day ceremonies in Portland on Sunday.

The bad cold struck McKernan at an unfortunate time politically, since he had planned a five-stop 12-hour schedule of appearances to kick off his re-election campaign against Democratic challenger and former Gov. Joseph E. Brennan on Monday.

But in politics, as in entertainment, the show must go on, so McKernan went through with the entire schedule of campaign appearances, from Bangor at 8 a.m. to Sanford at 7 p.m.

Lyford said McKernan’s speaking voice was so hoarse that he asked his 19-year-old son, Peter, to deliver the governor’s speech in Lewiston, Portland and Sanford. McKernan had given the speech himself in Bangor and Presque Isle.

“Peter was pressed into service at about 5,000 feet on the plane from Presque Isle to Lewiston. He did a marvelous job,” said Lyford, who attended the McKernan event in Portland.

Peter, a freshman at Dartmouth College, came home to Maine for his father’s campaign kickoff. Snowe and McKernan’s mother, Barbara McKernan of Bangor, also accompanied the governor on the whistle-stop tour.

Lyford said McKernan began losing his voice at the end of last week, was taking medication and on the advice of his doctor, had been trying to speak as little as possible over the weekend.

“The speculation is he might have gotten this on the bridge in Lewiston,” Lyford said.

In a symbolic gesture, McKernan had signed a bill restricting paper-company emissions of color, odor and foam into rivers at the middle of the James B. Longley Bridge linking Lewiston and Auburn on Wednesday, April 18.

It was a windy day and McKernan didn’t wear a coat, Lyford recalled.

Lyford said late nights the governor kept at the end of the recently concluded legislative session also might have contributed to his catching a cold.

Lyford said McKernan would try to resume his normal schedule on Wednesday.

“He’s going to be keeping his mouth shut for now, which some people might think was good news,” quipped the press secretary, often a lightning rod for Democratic attacks on the Republican administration.

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