March 1, 2012

Snowe: Birthday led to reflection, ‘very tough decision’

By Jonathan Riskind jriskind@mainetoday.com
Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON — Sen. Olympia Snowe says she didn’t make up her mind not to seek re-election until Tuesday, the day she made her shocking announcement.

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Sen. Olympia Snowe speaks in Portland in October 2011.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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“It was back and forth in my head,” Snowe said in a phone interview Wednesday night. “I didn’t make the final decision until literally yesterday.”

After months of activity gearing up her campaign to run for a fourth term, her 65th birthday, on Feb. 21, helped her realize that perhaps she didn’t want another six years in a Senate that she had come to regard as paralyzed by partisanship, said Snowe, a Republican.

“My birthday last week really focused me on that,” she said. “I didn’t have many moments to reflect at all during this last year and a half when I started working on this whole (re-election) process. I have been going full tilt.… Then I started to think about the picture in its entirety in the context of my life.”

Only three or four people knew that she was grappling with the idea of retiring after 34 years on Capitol Hill, first as a House member before she won her Senate seat in 1994.

Snowe said she told family members about her decision Tuesday, before notifying Republican Senate leaders and other lawmakers she is close to – then making it public late in the afternoon.

Snowe reiterated Wednesday that she believed she was on a path to re-election. Independent political analysts rated her as a safe bet to win in November.

“My motivation was entirely about building the strongest campaign effort, which I did, and working very hard, and it would be, in my view, a successful one barring something unforeseen,” Snowe said. “I just had to really think it through and make a very, very tough decision” not to run.

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

jriskind@mainetoday.com

Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC

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