Olympia Snowe gave Maine’s GOP a nasty start when she announced she is withdrawing from the 2012 Senate race.
“Race” is a misnomer, really. Right up to the moment she withdrew she was set to win in an easy walk, despite being primaried by two very weak challengers, one of whom had already left the party a week ago to run as an Independent. So why did she pull out? And why now?
First, let’s see what Snowe herself said in explanation:
In a statement issued by her campaign, Snowe said that both she and her husband, former Gov. John R. McKernan, are in good health and she is certain she would have won re-election.
One of a dwindling group of GOP Senate moderates, Snowe said she no longer wanted to serve in an increasingly partisan and polarized Senate.
“As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion,” Snowe said in a statement. “I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.”
My first thought was that she might be ill. But Snowe has finessed that already by saying she and her husband are in good health. So although I have little doubt that Snowe isn’t at all happy with the current climate in Congress—both the low regard the public seems to hold for its members in general, and the increasing disfavor with which her brand of moderate (read: RINO) Republicanism has come to be seen within her own party—I think there must be more to it than she’s admitting.
A lot more, because successful politicians just don’t do that sort of thing. Not for reasons like that, anyway; not in the middle of a successful campaign, and not 15 days before the new candidate would have to file a petition with 3000 certified signatures on it.
One can’t help but suspect that Ms. Snowe’s motive has something to do with anger and something to do with revenge and goes a bit like this: “You think I’m a RINO and don’t appreciate me much? Well, get a load of my replacement. Miss me yet?”
Whatever Snowe’s true motives, Maine Republicans will have to hustle if they want to get a candidate on the ballot who’s more viable than Scott D’Amboise, the current Tea Party guy who has little chance of winning a Senate seat:
There are several possible Republican contenders for the seat including Senate President Kevin L. Raye, former gubernatorial candidate Steve Abbott, Secretary of State Charles E. Summers Jr., Peter Cianchette, the former ambassador to Costa Rica and State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin…
With two weeks to go, there is still time for these established names to call on their own organizations to get the signatures they need to be on the ballot…
Meanwhile, Maine Democrats already in the primary may be replaced by stronger candidates, too, now that they have a real chance of winning.
Those who don’t like RINOs will probably say to Snowe buh-bye, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. But if the GOP wants to gain a Senate majority, this makes it that much harder. On the other hand, if by some chance a new Republican contender can be found who manages to win the seat, my guess is that whoever it is, he/she will be considerably less of a RINO than Snowe.
But boy, Snowe must be really angry at the Republican Party.
[ADDENDUM: Could this have had something to do with Snowe’s abrupt announcement?]