The Maine House of Representatives voted Thursday to indefinitely postpone an order seeking to have Gov. Paul LePage impeached for abuse of power.
A group of lawmakers led by Democratic Rep. Ben Chipman of Portland submitted the impeachment order, which came up for debate on the House floor.
The proposal aimed to punish the Republican governor for using influence to pressure a charter school operator into taking back a job offer from Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves, who responded by suing in federal court.
LePage's foes also wanted to look into allegations that he forced out the president of the Maine Community College System, refused to allow administration officials to testify in front of committees and involved himself in the internal workings of the unemployment compensation board.
"Because of Paul LePage, Maine's pristine image has taken a beating. The whole world is watching," said Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, an impeachment supporter and political independent.
The debate got underway after the House approved a resolution of "values and principles" that talked about leaders speaking in one voice and "refusing to accept a political climate based on fear and personal animosity."
Republican Rep. Joel Stetkis, of Canaan, spoke against it, calling it a "thinly veiled" reference to the governor and suggesting it was a waste of time.
LePage, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, has said he did nothing wrong and the attacks on him are political and tantamount to a "witch hunt."
All the governor's opponents needed to start the investigation was a simple majority vote in the Democratic-controlled House. But they failed to get that.
An impeachment order would have been unprecedented.
The state attorney general, Democrat Janet Mills, already declined to investigate LePage's conduct. She said there was no evidence he committed a crime when he pressured Good Will-Hinckley, an organization that serves at-risk young people and runs a charter school, to rescind the job offer to Eves.
LePage is known for a blunt style and off-the-cuff remarks that get him into trouble.
He was criticized last week after saying out-of-state drug dealers with names like "D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty" sell heroin in Maine and "half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave." He later apologized for the comment, calling it a slip of the tongue.