Snowe not to seek reelection

Posted Wednesday, February 29, 2012 in Politics

Snowe not to seek reelection

by Gina Hamilton

PORTLAND -- With only 17 days until the filing deadline, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe acknowledged on Tuesday that she would not run for reelection to the Senate. 

A three-term senator, Snowe's campaign office issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon that was confirmed by her campaign manager, Justin Brasell.  She said in her statement that she was confident that she would have won her reelection bid, but was frustrated by "an atmosphere of my-way-or-the-highway ideologies."

Snowe’s retirement represents a major setback for the GOP’s efforts to regain a majority in the Senate. As a moderate Republican, she may be the party’s only hope to hold her seat in Maine, which is typically a blue state.

Olympia Snowe has been in Congress for 33 years.  She and fellow Maine Senator Susan Collins are widely regarded as moderates in the Senate, but the number of centrists in Washington, and their power, has been on the decline for the last twelve years.  Snowe said she sees opportunities to build support for change to create a political center in Washington, but from outside of the Senate.

There are currently three Democrats who have expressed an interest in challenging Snowe -- Matthew Dunlap, former Secretary of State; Jon Hinck, State Representative from Portland, and Cynthia Dill, State Senator from Cape Elizabeth. It is possible that Rep. Chellie Pingree will run, based on a statement released to the media on Tuesday, which reads, in part, "This upcoming election is critical to the future of our working families around the country, and in the coming days I will carefully consider how I can best serve the people of Maine."

Snowe, for the first time, would have faced challengers from her own party, including Scott D'Amboise, a former Lisbon Falls selectman, and until recently, conservative activist Andrew Ian Dodge was thought to be in the running.  He has since declined, but it is likely that the GOP will attempt to field a stronger candidate. Already there is speculation that it could be State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, but that remains to be seen.

It is also possible that an unforeseen entry to the race could come from an independent.

However, whoever is planning to enter the race will have to assemble an exploratory committee immediately and seek backing before the filing deadline occurs on March 15, which may be a tall order.

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