In a surprising move, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe declared that she will not seek a fourth term. This is obviously good news for Democrats in an election season where Republicans have fallen from favour and Democrats have more seats to defend than Republicans. It’s also an ominous sign of our political division as Snowe, the Republican party’s most moderate member, cites the reason for leaving as her fear that the partisanship in congress shows no sign of abating.
Indeed, the Democrats most moderate member, Ben Nelson, is also stepping down; a further sign that the divide is widening between the two parties.
With only two weeks to the filing deadline, potential replacement candidates are racing to declare candidacy for Snowe’s seat. This is leaving several political vacuums as potential candidates would be vacating other seats. 2,000 signatures need to be filed by March 15th unless the Governor agrees to some form of extension.
Four Democrats (state Rep. Jon Hinck, state Sen. Cynthia Dill, former Secretary of State Matthew and Portland home builder Ben Pollard)who already announced they’re running could be joined by U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree and former Gov. John Baldacci, all of whom are weighing a bid for the open seat. If Pingree and Michaud both run, that would leave three of Maine’s four congressional seats up for grabs.
Secretary of State Charlie Summers and Maine Senate President Kevin Raye could join the Republican race. Former independent Gov. Angus King and former independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler also were weighing runs.
The reason Snowe’s timing is surprising is because the conventional perception is that the re-election would have easily gone to her. A few of the people running to replace her are citing similar reservations and are planning to run as independent candidates.
Whether the Democrats can pick this seat up is open to speculation but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that there could be another Vermont Independent-esque candidate from New England.
- ME-Sen: Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe to retire (dailykos.com)
- The Last GOP Moderate (thedailybeast.com)
- Three-term GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe won’t run for reelection (thehill.com)
- Sen. Olympia Snowe announces retirement: Can the GOP hold her seat? – Washington Post (washingtonpost.com)
- Olympia Snowe won’t seek re-election in 2012 – msnbc.com (blog) (firstread.msnbc.msn.com)
- Olympia Snowe Retirement Causes Maine Scramble (Huffington Post)