February 29, 2012

Snowe decision rocks political landscape

Sen. Snowe stuns Maine and the political world, saying she’s tired of partisanship and won’t run again.

By Jonathan Riskind jriskind@mainetoday.com
Washington Bureau Chief

(Continued from page 2)

Snowe retires

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In Olympia Snowe's words: “I have no doubt I would have won re-election. ... I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.”

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D'Amboise spoke out after the Justice Department filed notice that it would intervene in a whistleblower lawsuit alleging that Education Management Corp. of Pittsburgh improperly compensated employees who recruit students to the for-profit college company's institutions. McKernan is chairman of the corporation's board.

Political insiders said Snowe's explanation for her decision not to run matched her public pronouncements about the value of bipartisanship.

"I think Olympia's retirement is emblematic of her party's march to the far right," said Michael Cuzzi, a Democratic consultant in Portland. "The Republican Party of (presidential candidates) Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney is not the Republican Party of Olympia Snowe."

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, asserted that Republicans will hold on to the seat in Maine, but he didn't indicate in a prepared statement which candidate the party is counting on to accomplish that goal.

"While I would never underestimate the fight ahead in defending any open Senate seat, Republicans remain well-positioned to win back a Senate majority in November," Cornyn said.

Other colleagues voiced dismay about Snowe's decision.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, sat with Snowe last month during the State of the Union address, when a number of lawmakers participated in a bipartisan "date night" movement in an attempt to increase civility and compromise on Capitol Hill. He said Snowe has been a "great partner" on the Senate commerce committee's oceans subcommittee, where the lawmakers were the top members from their parties and worked on issues common to both coastal states.

Snowe "has incredible knowledge and understanding of the Senate, and has had a very positive influence during her years of service," Begich said Tuesday via email.

This story was updated at 2:50 p.m. Wednesday to correct the spelling of Rep. Jon Hinck's name.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: jriskind@mainetoday.com

Twitter.com/MaineToday

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Snowe retires

Are you sorry to see U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe retire?

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