Saturday, December 7, 2013
QUESTION: “Should Olympia Snowe use her leftover campaign funds to help Charlie Summers and Maine Republicans?”
DAN DEMERITT is a Republican political consultant and public relations specialist. He is a former campaign aide and communications director for Gov. Paul LePage.
Typically one expects an alliance between an outgoing office holder and the candidate of the same party trying to fill the seat.
That was certainly the case when I was the political director on the first Susan Collins for Senate campaign.
In 1996, outgoing Sen. Bill Cohen was extremely supportive of the Collins bid, offering help that went above and beyond the expected. He provided a compelling endorsement, helped raise money, and gave his chief of staff, Bob Tyrer, a leave of absence to manage the Collins campaign.
Fast forward to 2012, and Sen. Olympia Snowe is taking a pronounced pass on providing the same level of support for her would-be Republican replacement Charlie Summers.
The difference between then and now was that Susan Collins was a longtime former staffer to Cohen whose loyalty and friendship to the departing senator was without question.
Summers, despite a similar staff history and having accepted Snowe's help on his prior campaigns for Congress, passed on several requests to endorse Sen. Snowe's re-election within the last year.
The friction in the Senate race between the outgoing and the aspiring is troubling, and impactful.
Given the circumstances, it's easy to understand Snowe's decision to depart from her long history of helping her fellow GOP candidates.
But this is the kind of dispute that could get in the way of what Republicans want to accomplish in November.
Over the years Sen. Snowe has made it a habit to invite local Republicans along her many downtown walks throughout Maine, providing GOP candidates with a chance to meet voters and get much needed exposure in their local papers.
Being seen with Snowe matters and she is still making herself available.
At May's GOP convention, the line of candidates seeking a photo with her for their campaign brochures was reportedly out the room and down the hall.
And the work of raising money for Republican candidates continues as well.
Recently, Snowe attended a fundraiser in Washington for Republican congressional candidate Kevin Raye, himself a fiercely loyal former Snowe staffer.
It is not clear if Sen. Snowe will be using some of her campaign war chest to help candidates this cycle. We already know that more than half of the $2 million she had on hand is being used to establish the Olympia Snowe Women's Leadership Institute.
Regardless of the decision about the remaining campaign funds, one can expect Snowe and her husband, former Maine Republican Gov. John McKernan, will continue to be strong supporters of Republican causes and candidates.
Another cause for concern in terms of party unity is the effort being made to challenge the Maine Republican delegates to the national convention later this month.
Supporters of Ron Paul ran an impressive mobilization effort at the Maine GOP convention in May. They got their people out and wrestled control of the weekend away from the party establishment.
Paul supporters elected a slate of delegates to the national convention.
Their presence in Tampa later this month will have no impact on Mitt Romney becoming the GOP nominee, but they could be part of an effort that gets Paul formerly nominated, guaranteeing the congressman 15 minutes to address the convention.
Romney supporters in Maine are challenging the delegates on allegations of voter fraud.
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