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Snowe retirement could be a big deal

It could turn out that the biggest political news of yesterday was not the outcome of the Michigan primary (the unanimous analysis seems to be that, while it was obviously good for Romney to have won, it didn’t settle anything in the long run), but the totally unexpected announcement by Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe that she would not run for a fourth term.

This bolt from the blue appears to put in play a seat that was safely Republican (if Snowe had run) and increases the Dems chances of hanging onto their very iffy majority control of the Senate.

Snowe has the least conservative rating of any Repub senator, although she is nonetheless to the right of the least liberal Dem. In other words, she occupies nearly dead center in the Senate. In recent months she appeared to be moving to the right, leading to an obvious (if cynical) assumption that she was protecting her right flank to ward off a Tea Partyish primary challenge.

And she appeared to have done so. Before yesterday, just two weeks for the Maine filing deadline Senate candidates, she faced no serious opposition for renomination or, really, for reelection. Snowe is young (64), by Senate standards and healthy.

In her statement yesterday, she blasted the partisan polarization that has afflicted the Congress of late and, intriguingly, said she would seek to work from outside the Congress to build up the center in U.S. politics.

Here are two key paragraphs from her statement:

As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first day in the Maine House of Representatives. I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions…

As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America.

Maine is generally viewed as a light blue state in presidential politics, although President Obama carried it in 2008 by a crushing 58-41 and the Dems have carried the state for the last six races.

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Comments (6)

Snowe for Obama's VP slot!

Maybe what this country needs is a bipartisan ticket? Obama has shown that he's more than willing to compromise, and so has Snowe. Why not work together and really get this country back together?


What an intriguing thought! Obama/Snowe 2012? Talk about shaking things up - that would have a lot of appeal to independents and moderate Repubs. I like it!


Her retirement makes me very sad and worried for the future of our nation. She is smart, considerate, skilled, and generally a great Senator. Without her I fear things can only get worse - something I cannot imagine.

Word on the street

is that a Wall Street billionaire (Pingree?) is going to buy the senate seat for his wife so she can pursue her hobby as a far-left activist.

pingee pingree who?

What are you talking about? Who said? What are your sources?

One moderate left.

One moderate left.