– By JONATHAN RISKIND

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON – Speaking Wednesday as a potential U.S. Senate candidate who has formed an “exploratory committee,” Democrat Jon Hinck criticized Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s vote against President Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan as a “no” vote that is “bad for jobs, bad for Maine.”

Hinck, a state representative from Portland, is one of two Democrats who are considering running against Snowe next year. He appears to be on the verge of making his entry official. Snowe and Maine Sen. Susan Collins joined other Republicans Tuesday in voting against a motion on the bill, as did two Senate Democrats, producing a 51-48 vote that fell far short of the 60 needed to end debate and go to a final vote.

Snowe and Collins indicated that they weren’t satisfied with having just an up-or-down vote on the bill, but both said there are job-creating elements that Obama and Democrats back that they, too, could support.

Hinck singled out Snowe, who will try to win a fourth term next year, in a letter that carries a logo saying: “Making change happen for Maine Jon Hinck U.S. Senate Exploratory Committee.”

Forming an exploratory committee allows Hinck to begin raising money and contacting donors as a potential candidate. Crossing a $5,000 fundraising threshold would require him to file as a candidate. Former Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap of Old Town also is considering a run. Snowe has two announced tea party-affiliated challengers for the GOP primary, Scott D’Amboise of Lisbon Falls and Andrew Ian Dodge of Harpswell.

In his statement, Hinck endorses the jobs bill, which includes an extension of the Social Security payroll tax reduction and would be financed largely with a tax surcharge on people with incomes of $1 million and more.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

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