February 29, 2012

All of a sudden, Senate race is wide open

High-profile members of both parties are expected to try to beat the March 15 deadline.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

and Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

In most of the other competitive Senate races, Democrats are trying to hold seats. "Here, all of a sudden, they have a chance to pick one up," Schmidt said.

Maine's political parties will have to sort out quickly who will run for what.

"It opens up a lot of opportunity for people," said state Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney, R-Springvale.

Courtney decided earlier this year against a run for the 1st Congressional District seat. He said Tuesday he was not prepared to say whether he will run for U.S. Senate. He said he expects a lot of interest on the Republican side.

"It's a U.S. Senate seat," he said. "Washington is clearly broken. You look at the approval ratings for members of Congress and it's in the single digits. We need a new approach."

Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster said he had spoken to Snowe about her frustration. "She's always been a consensus builder," he said.

Webster said he did not know who would step in, but the party has a "farm team" of good candidates. "It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks," he said.

Lizzy Reinholt, a spokeswoman for the Maine Democratic Party, said many are considering a run. "I think, in the next few days, we're going to see quite a few names come forward."

Hinck, the Democratic state representative already running for the seat, said he understands Snowe's frustration.

"I've often thought it seems to me she must be in an untenable position. The word 'moderate' (to describe Snowe) is accurate, in my opinion." But, he said, "her party has become increasingly extreme."

Hinck said he and others who already are in the race have an advantage.

"The people who would be willing to stand up to run against Olympia Snowe, the titan, have already demonstrated their mettle," he said.

Dill, the Democratic state senator running for Snowe's seat, said, "I'm thrilled that, finally, there's a realistic opportunity to make some different choices for Maine in the U.S. Senate. ... I'm pleased, like so many of Maine's leaders, (Snowe) is exiting on a graceful note."

Gov. Paul LePage issued a statement Tuesday thanking Snowe for her service.

"I was saddened to learn today that Senator Olympia J. Snowe will not seek re-election for United States Senate," he said. "Senator Snowe has represented the State of Maine for more than three decades with integrity and has been a tremendous leader and a tireless advocate for the people of Maine."


MaineToday Media State House Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: jrichardson@mainetoday.com


MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: scover@mainetoday.com


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