Snowe fall­out get­ting deeper

Re­tire­ment sets off Maine suc­ces­sion scram­ble

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY DAVID SHARP

PORT­LAND, MAINE | Maine Re­pub­li­can Sen. Olympia Snowe’s decision to re­tire from the Se­nate sparked a wide-open scram­ble Wed­nes­day among po­ten­tial Demo­cratic and Re­pub­li­can can­di­dates just two weeks be­fore a dead­line to qual­ify for the June pri­mary bal­lot.

Four Democrats who al­ready had an­nounced they are run­ning could be joined by U.S. Reps. Michael H. Michaud and Chel­lie Pin­gree and for­mer Gov. John Bal­dacci, all of whom are weigh­ing a bid for the open seat. If Ms. Pin­gree and Mr. 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 also is weigh­ing a run.

“Ev­ery­body who has any am­bi­tion will look at it and ask if this is the time,” said Sandy Maisel, di­rec­tor of the Gold­farb Cen­ter for Public Af­fairs at Colby Col­lege.

The dead­line was weigh­ing on all can­di­dates, who would have to col­lect 2,000 sig­na­tures by March 15 to qual­ify for the bal­lot.

Maine Gov. Paul Lepage has no plans to ex­tend the dead­line but would con­sider it if leg­is­la­tors in­tro­duced a bill to change the statu­tory dead­line to give can­di­dates more time, Adrienne Ben­nett, his spokes­woman, said.

By Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, less than 24 hours af­ter Ms. Snowe’s stun­ning an­nounce­ment that she was leav­ing af­ter three terms, Ms. Pin­gree was col­lect­ing sig­na­tures, while Mr. Michaud and Mr. Bal­dacci picked up pe­ti­tions from the sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice.

The mod­er­ate Re­pub­li­can’s an­nounce­ment cre­ates one of the best op­por­tu­ni­ties na­tion­wide for Democrats in a race in which Ms. Snowe was con­sid­ered a safe bet to win an­other six-year term. Democrats are strug­gling to re­tain con­trol of the Se­nate with a 51-47 ma­jor­ity that in­cludes two in­de­pen­dents who cau­cus with them.

“It’s an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity, be­cause I don’t think there’s any deny­ing that ev­ery­one fig­ured it would go to Snowe. Now the fa­vor­a­bil­ity is on the side of Democrats,” said Lizzy Rein­holt, spokes­woman for the Maine Demo­cratic Party.

Four Democrats, state Rep. Jon Hinck, state Sen. Cyn­thia Dill, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Matthew Dun­lap and Port­land home builder Ben Pol­lard, all an­nounced they are run­ning in the Demo­cratic Se­nate pri­mary.

Other po­ten­tial Democrats in ad­di­tion to Ms. Pin­gree, Mr. Michaud and Mr. Bal­dacci in­clude Eliot Cut­ler, who ran as an in­de­pen­dent in the gov­er­nor’s race and fin­ished sec­ond to Re­pub­li­can Paul Lepage, Mr. Maisel said.

On the Re­pub­li­can side, Scott D’am­boise, a small-busi­ness owner who ran un­suc­cess­fully for Congress in 2006, could be joined by Mr. Sum­mers or Mr. Raye, or both. Tea party ac­tivist An­drew Ian Dodge dropped out of the pri­mary, opt­ing to run as an in­de­pen­dent.

Mr. King, an­other in­de­pen­dent, said he would de­cided within a few days even though in­de­pen­dents aren’t bound by the March 15 dead­line.

“I’m giv­ing it some thought for the very rea­son that Olympia quit. It’s just not work­ing down there and maybe we need to try some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Mr. King said Wed­nes­day. “We have se­ri­ous prob­lems in this coun­try, but we can’t be­gin to solve them un­til we solve this shrill dead­lock.”


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