Tuesday May 03, 2011 | 12:59 PM

Scott D’Amboise, a Tea Party-aligned primary challenger to GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine has hired a team of campaign consultants.

D’Amboise says in a statement that he hired Tyler Harber and Kurt Luidhardt, partners at the Washington and Indiana-based Prosper Group, because “In order to beat liberal Republican Olympia Snowe, I have hired a team of seasoned professionals known for helping underdog candidates – like myself – win elections.”
 
The Prosper Group wascredited by Campaigns & Elections for playing a significant role in the elections of Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts in 2010 and GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia in 2009.
 
Some Maine Republicans and outside analysts have expressed skepticism about whether D’Amboise or the other Tea Party-movement announced challenger to Snowe, Andrew Ian Dodge, can make a serious run at the three-term incumbent when she runs for reelection in 2012.
 
Harber said in a phone interview today that D’Amboise is laying the groundwork for a challenge by working behind the scenes to begin to raise money, assemble a corps of grassroots volunteers and conduct research on how to best attack Snowe. Harber said the Prosper Group is familiar with Maine because it has worked for outside groups that have spent money on the campaigns to repeal the gay marriage amendment in 2009 and in support of now Gov. Paul LePage’s 2010 camapaign.
 
LePage, himself a Tea Party-backed candidate who won election with 38 percent of the vote in a three-way general election, has endorsed Snowe, and had a long-standing personal relationship with Snowe’s late first husband, Peter Snowe.
 
Snowe has said she comes to the bid for a fourth term armed with strong conservative credentials in areas such as the push to balance the federal budget and roll back federal regulations. She also has taken stands over the years that don’t make many conservatives happy, such as her opposition to de-funding Planned Parenthood.
 
Snowe also comes to the campaign armed with a lot of campaign cash. Her campaign reported last month that it raised $877,019 during the first three months of the year and had more than $2 million on hand as of March 31.
 
The Maine Democratic Party says there will be a strong general election challenge of Snowe, but thus far several potential Democratic challengers appear to be hanging back to see if Snowe appears vulnerable in the primary.
 
(UPDATED 1:50 p.m.: The Snowe campaign issued this comment:
"Maine Republicans and the people of Maine know Olympia Snowe. They know her record and that she represents the views of the vast majority of the people of Maine. She will run an aggressive campaign that focuses on her record of being a fiscal conservative and a mainstream voice for the people of Maine on the issues that matter most to them.They also expect campaigns based on facts and civil discourse and that is the kind of campaign they can expect from Senator Snowe.")

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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