March 1, 2012

Snowe's retirement causes statewide game of musical chairs

By Edward D. Murphy
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe’s announcement Tuesday that she would not seek a fourth term this November set off a chain reaction as Maine political leaders interested in a Senate run open up seats in Congress and the State House.

2000 File Photo/The Portland Press Herald

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"Now the (Senate) field is flooded with people with significant resources," Dill said, so, like Hinck, she'll run for the House if Pingree tries for the Senate.

Former Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and Benjamin Pollard, a home builder from Portland, did not say Wednesday whether they will stay in the suddenly crowded Democratic primary for the Senate seat.

Scott D'Amboise of Lisbon Falls, who was Snowe's lone Republican primary challenger, had at least one day to consider himself the presumptive nominee. He marked it with an interview on Fox News in which he said Snowe had proven to be not conservative enough.

Pingree has the largest group of politicians hoping she'll leave her House seat to run for the Senate.

In addition to Dill and Hinck, Democrats who took out nominating papers for the 1st District seat were David Costa, a Portland hotel concierge who has made one unsuccessful run for Portland City Council; David Lamoine, a former state treasurer; and Wellington Lyons, a lawyer who's an official with the League of Young Voters.

Republicans who are interested in Pingree's seat are state Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney of Springvale and Markham Gartley, a former secretary of state who once ran against Snowe when she was in the House and he was a Democrat.

In the 2nd District, Michaud's seat is being eyed by Democrats Bruce Bryant, a former state senator, and state House Minority Leader Emily Cain.

Republican Debra Plowman, the assistant state Senate majority leader, also has taken out papers to run for the U.S. House.

State Senate President Kevin Raye, who had declared himself a candidate for Michaud's seat, now is considered likely to join the Senate race in the next few days.

In addition, the national parties have assembled lists of Mainers who are potential candidates now that Snowe is out of the race, said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington.

The national Democrats’ list includes Pingree, Michaud and Baldacci, as well as Pingree’s daughter Hannah, a former Maine House Speaker, and former U.S. Rep. Tom Allen.

The national Republicans’ list includes Raye, University  of Maine athletic director and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Steve Abbott, businessman and former Ambassador to Costa Rica Peter Cianchette, Attorney General William Schneider, Secretary of State Charlie Summers and former Maine House GOP leader Josh Tardy.

Duffy said that while Democrats had assembled an early wish list to run against Snowe, Republicans were so taken by surprise that “this is all pretty new to them’ Republicans never contemplated (Snowe’s) retirement,” Duffy said.

In all, it's the biggest shuffle in Maine politics since Democrat George Mitchell decided to retire from the Senate in 1994. That led to Snowe running for Senate against Tom Andrews, the Democrat who represented the 1st Congressional District.

Snowe's win allowed Baldacci to capture a seat in Congress. Baldacci was succeeded by Michaud when Baldacci ran for governor in 2002.

In the 1st District that year, James Longley Jr. was swept in with the Republican Revolution of 1994. He was gone two years later, replaced by Tom Allen. Pingree succeeded Allen in 2009.

Just as Snowe's election to the Senate turned a safe Democratic seat Republican, Baughman thinks the seat could return to the Democrats this fall.

National observers are still chewing over Snowe's surprise decision and haven't turned their focus to the upcoming races and how they might alter Maine's political landscape.

"Democrats have been too busy dancing in the streets after Snowe's announcement" to think about that, said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.

This story was updated at 9:35 a.m. March 1 to correct the spelling of Jon Courtney's name.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:


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