Democrats’ bid for Snowe seat runs into snag

In­de­pen­dent for­mer gov­er­nor eyes Se­nate

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY DAVID SHARP

PORT­LAND, MAINE | Pop­u­lar for­mer in­de­pen­dent Maine gov­er­nor and newly an­nounced U.S. Se­nate can­di­date An­gus King says he’s not be­holden to po­lit­i­cal par­ties. He says no­body will be able to tell him how to vote “ex­cept for the peo­ple of Maine.”

Mr. King an­nounced Mon­day night he’s run­ning for the Se­nate seat left open af­ter Re­pub­li­can Sen. Olympia J. Snowe’s sur­prise decision not to seek a fourth term. He made his an­nounce­ment af­ter de­liv­er­ing a lec­ture at Bow­doin Col­lege in Brunswick. Just hours be­fore, for­mer gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Eliot Cut­ler en­dorsed his fel­low in­de­pen­dent.

Democrats had hopes of pick­ing up the seat af­ter Mrs. Snowe’s sur­prise an­nounce­ment last week she was step­ping down in a state where the party has a clear reg­is­tra­tion edge. But a three-way race in­volv­ing the pop­u­lar Mr. King could change the dy­namic of the race.

Mr. King “would bring to the Se­nate the in­de­pen­dence, the abil­i­ties, the rep­u­ta­tion and the dis­po­si­tion that will make him a great se­na­tor, that will serve us Main­ers well and make us proud ev­ery day, and that will be­gin to re­build and re­store the Se­nate to what it was in­tended to be, the world’s great­est de­lib­er­a­tive body,” Mr. Cut­ler said.

Mr. King en­joyed high ap­proval rat­ings when he served from 1995 to 2003. He reg­u­larly reached across both sides of the aisle, and his ad­min­is­tra­tion en­joyed bud­get sur­pluses at the height of the In­ter­net boom.

Mark Brewer, a po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Maine, said that “things just got more in­ter­est­ing” in the Se­nate fight with Mr. King’s im­mi­nent en­try.

“An­gus King is not your typ­i­cal in­de­pen­dent or third-party can­di­date. He left of­fice be­ing quite pop­u­lar. He’s still quite pop­u­lar to­day,” Mr. Brewer said. “He goes right to the top of the list, even though he doesn’t have the back­ing of the ma­jor par­ties and can’t tap party dol­lars.”

Scott D’am­boise, a con­ser­va­tive GOP can­di­date who’d worked for two years on his cam­paign, could be joined in the Re­pub­li­can pri­mary by ad­di­tional can­di­dates such as Sec­re­tary of State Charles Sum­mers, state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Wil­liam Sch­nei­der, state Trea­surer Bruce Poliquin and for­mer state Sen. Rick Ben­nett.

On the Demo­cratic side, four can­di­dates have an­nounced they’re run­ning, but some might make way for U.S. Rep. Chel­lie Pin­gree or for­mer Gov. John Bal­dacci, both of whom are con­sid­er­ing the job.

While some had pressed for Mr. Cut­ler to run, he said he in­tends to con­tinue work­ing to re­store the po­lit­i­cal cen­ter through or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing “No La­bels” and his “One­maine.”

Mr. Cut­ler said it’s im­por­tant to have an in­de­pen­dent voice along the lines of Mrs. Snowe, among the most mod­er­ate mem­bers of the GOP Se­nate cau­cus..

“What made Olympia Snowe spe­cial was not that she is a woman or a Re­pub­li­can, some­times in the ma­jor­ity and of­ten in the mi­nor­ity, but that her vote was hers and hers alone. It wasn’t bound to one party or to one ide­ol­ogy. She called ‘em as she saw ‘em, and she worked hard to find com­pro­mise,” Mr. Cut­ler said in a state­ment.

Eliot Cut­ler

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