February 20, 2011

Snowe's re-election bid draws challengers aligned with tea party

A national group targets the veteran Republican for defeat, but political experts don't see her as vulnerable.

By Jonathan Riskind jriskind@mainetoday.com
Washington Bureau Chief

(Continued from page 1)

Scott D’Amboise

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Andrew Ian Dodge

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Democrat Rosa Scarcelli of Portland, an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate last year, has been mentioned as a challenger to Snowe, particularly if Snowe moves to the right to counter a tea party challenge.

Scarcelli, 41, said she is immersed in running her affordable-housing company and hasn't made a decision, but is flattered by the talk about her candidacy.

"I do believe Snowe would be a difficult challenge for anyone, and I am thinking about how she is voting and whether or not it reflects our values as a state," Scarcelli said. "When the time is right, I will make a decision."

Snowe said in an interview last week that she is proud of her record and considers herself a longtime and authentic fiscal conservative.

Snowe noted that she has fought against federal deficits and for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution for years and is pursuing an agenda that includes less government regulation of small businesses.

Her votes for the bank bailout and stimulus package were cast in the context of an economy on a precipice, she said. The stimulus package was mishandled by an Obama administration whose health care and government regulation agenda made businesses too nervous to re-launch their private-sector investments and hiring, Snowe said.

Snowe is talking to Mainers across the state about her record, answering questions and putting her three U.S. Senate terms, and eight U.S. House terms before that, into a context she says is often distorted by the "polarizing prism" of talk radio, cable TV and social media.

Snowe says she is "always worried about any election" and doesn't "blame people for being angry and feeling disconnected from Washington." But her goal is simply to "make sure people understand who I am. I have been there and I have been fighting" on behalf of Maine interests.

Snowe wields power on Capitol Hill, by virtue of her seniority, powerful committee posts and as a swing vote often sought by both parties.

Mainers -- including many conservatives -- are pragmatic -- they recognize no one agrees 100 percent with any politician and that it would be a bad idea to lose a senator with as much seniority and power as Snowe, say Maine GOP officials interviewed last week.

"Olympia enjoys rather broad support in this community and in the state," said Tom Shields, chairman of the Androscoggin County GOP. "I think she will prevail in the primary."

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



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Sen. Olympia Snowe


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