Olympia Snowe won’t attend a private re-election fundraiser for Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday night, but she will be there in spirit, her spokesman says.
The former Republican senator agreed to lend her name as an honorary host of the event, which will be held at the Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport — close to the family compound of former President George H.W. Bush.
Headlining the event will be former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush’s son. Bush, who served eight years as Florida’s governor before leaving office in 2007, has been mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate.
“Senator Snowe is not going to be there,” said her spokesman, Lucas Caron. “She knew a long time ago that she had a prior engagement but she wanted to show her support.”
Snowe and her husband, John McKernan, both of Falmouth, had already made plans to attend “a family wedding” on July 2, Caron said.
Caron said Snowe has not indicated to him whether she will actively support LePage if the governor announces he is running for re-election.
But in March 2012, McKernan contributed $3,000 to LePage, according to financial disclosure records on the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices’ website.
Snowe, who said she left the Senate because there was too much partisan bickering, has been traveling across Maine and the country promoting her new book, “Fighting for Common Ground. How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress,” Caron said.
She has also established a political action committee website called Olympia’s List where she writes political blogs and talks about voting for officials who follow the principles of consensus building.
In her book, Snowe, a leading moderate, calls for bridging the partisan divide by holding elected officials accountable for their actions.
Caron was asked how Snowe reacted to LePage’s ‘vaseline’ comment last month, an off-color remark that was part of comments criticizing state Sen. Troy Jackson’s position on the state budget.
“Governor LePage’s comments were regrettable and inappropriate,” Snowe said in a statement.
“It is my understanding that the governor has rightly apologized for his language, and I believe that was in everyone’s best interests so that in the final hours of this legislative session the Governor and the Legislature can get back to working toward policies which, as the governor has put it, would allow Maine people to become more prosperous.”
Snowe’s late husband, Peter Snowe, assisted LePage when he was an impoverished teen living in Lewiston and helped him get admitted to Husson College.
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins is expected to attend Tuesday’s fundraiser, according to her spokesman, Kevin Kelley.
Kelley said Collins is looking forward to seeing the Bush family.
When asked about LePage’s vaseline remark, Kelley said that Collins “felt it was appropriate that the governor apologized for his inappropriate comment.”
Collins, Snowe and McKernan are all listed on the invitation as members of the event’s honorary host committee.
Brent Littlefield, the governor’s political adviser, said the fact that both Snowe and Collins agreed to have their names listed on the invitation indicates they support LePage’s candidacy.
Littlefield singled out Snowe, noting that she actively campaigned for LePage in 2010.
“Senator Snowe knows that the governor has worked very hard to improve the state’s economy,” he said.
Littlefield said the event is the first major fundraising effort of the re-election campaign, even though LePage has yet to formally announce whether he is running.
He hinted to reporters last week that he may not seek re-election.
“The response has been good so far,” Littlefield said Monday of the governor’s fundraising efforts.
Littlefield declined to discuss how much money has been raised, adding that he would let the financial disclosure reports speak for themselves. The reports for January through June won’t be available until July 15.
Couples are paying $3,000 and individuals $2,000 to attend a private reception and photo opportunity that is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at the Nonantum on Ocean Avenue.
The cost for the general reception, which starts an hour later, is $150 per person, according to a fundraiser notice obtained by the Portland Press Herald.
Media will not be allowed to attend the fundraiser.
Other invited guests include Bruce Poliquin, the former state treasurer; and Les Otten, both of whom were defeated by LePage in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary.
Staff Writer Eric Russell contributed to this story.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: