UPDATE: Former Gov. John E. Baldacci, a Democrat, takes out nomination papers for the U.S. Senate.

The surprise retirement announcement Tuesday of Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is setting off a scramble among candidates for the U.S. Senate and House.

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, this morning took out papers for the Senate seat, while state Sen. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth –  who had announced she was running for the Senate against Snowe – instead took out papers for the 1st Congressional District, the seat currently held by Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.

Pingree hasn’t announced her plans, but said Tuesday she was considering a run for Snowe’s Senate seat.

State Sen. Majority Leader John Courtney, R-York County, has taken out papers for the 1st district House race, while the assistant majority leader, Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, has taken out nominating papers for the 2nd district House seat, which Michaud currently occupies.

State House Minority Leaders Emily Cain, D-Orono, took out nominating papers for the 2nd District House race, while former secretary of state Markham Gartley, also a Democrat, took out papers for the 1st District congressional seat.

Candidates need to take out nominating papers from the Maine Secretary of State’s office to run for any seat. To get on a primary ballot for the U.S. Senate, 2,000 signatures are required; for the U.S. House, it’s 1,000 signatures.

The deadline for either position is March 15.

Pingree’s husband, S. Donald Sussman, is a financier and philanthropist and frequent Democratic donor who recently purchased a 5 percent equity stake in MaineToday Media through Maine Values LLC. MaineToday Media owns and operates The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other media outlets in Maine.

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