Entries in Olympia Snowe (7)


With Filing Deadline Passed, Maine Senate Race Looks Unclear

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUGUSTA, Maine) -- When Olympia Snowe, the Republican senior senator from Maine, announced her plans to retire from Congress last month, the consensus among politicos was that her move would behoove the opposing party -- the Democrats.

But the filing deadline to qualify for the ballot in the state’s June 12 primary was Thursday at 5 p.m., and the outlook for the Democrats is not so clear.

Maine has been friendly territory for Democrats in recent years.  The state has gone Democratic in the past three presidential elections, and both of Maine’s House reps are Democrats. 

The party has a deep bench of strong candidates: Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, and former Gov. John Baldacci were viewed as strong possibilities to claim Snow’s sought-after seat.  All three, however, have decided against running.

Three Democrats are currently set to run: Matt Dunlap, a former secretary of state for Maine, state Sen. Cynthia Dill, and state Rep. John Hinck.

On the Republican side, the field is twice the size.  Six candidates have thrown their hats into the ring: current Secretary of State Charlie Summers, Attorney General William Schneider, State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, state Sen. Debra Plowman, former Maine Senate President Rick Bennett and Scott D’Ambroise, a  Tea Party candidate who entered the race before Snowe announced her retirement.

The big candidate, though -- the one who has so far gained the most attention -- doesn’t represent either party.  The candidate is Angus King, the former independent governor who served the state from 1995-2003.  King’s background in the public and private sectors appeals to both Republicans and Democrats.

“He’s a very successful businessman who has done a great deal of work in investing in green energy, and I think that kind of typifies how he’s able to appeal to both Republicans and Democrats,” said John Baughman, an associate professor of politics at Bates College in Lewiston.

Early polling suggests King is the clear front-runner in the race, and Baughman explained that King’s decision to run was likely the motivating factor for the more well-known Democrats' otherwise puzzling lack of presence.

“Democrats have in the back of their minds what happened in 2010,” said Baughman, referring to Maine’s gubernatorial race that year.

“In 2010, Democratic voters ended up splitting votes between the party nominee, Libby Mitchell, and independent Elliot Cutler, allowing a conservative candidate to win with about 39 percent of the vote.  And it was pretty clear that if either Mitchell or Cutler had dropped out of the race that [Paul] LePage, the Republican (and current Maine governor) would have lost.  The Democrats lost a winnable governor’s seat in a fairly blue state, and they did not want that to happen again,” he explained.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Olympia Snowe Scolds Senate as Being ‘Dysfunctional’

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Wednesday leveled some tough parting words at the United States Senate.

“It’s dysfunctional and the political paralysis has overtaken the environment to the detriment of the good of this country,” Snowe, who won’t be running for re-election, said to Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC of the political climate in Washington D.C. “It’s very, very difficult to resolve major issues.”

Snowe waxed nostalgic about the political compromise of yesteryear, harkening back to the days of then-Majority Leader Bob Dole, who she recalled would put a bipartisan group together in his office to work out a specific problem without the fanfare of today’s public political battles.

“We’re not working out issues anymore,” she said. “We’re working in a parallel universe with competing proposals, and up-or-down votes.”

It was only last week, while the Senate was on recess, that Snowe made the “very difficult” decision to not run for re-election, she said. She was celebrating her 65th birthday at the same time, saying that this “milestone” birthday led her to “focus and be clarifying” about whether or not she was prepared to commit another six years to the U.S. Senate.

Snowe said each party is to blame for the political dysfunction that ultimately led to her deciding to not seek re-election.

“You can never solve a problem without talking to people with whom you disagree,” she said. “And the United States Senate is predicated and based on the essence of consensus building. That was certainly the vision of our founding fathers. And if we abandon that approach, then we do it at the expense of the country and the issues we need to address to put us back on track.”

Snowe will pursue other opportunities outside the Senate, but was not specific about what she intends to do after her third six-year term ends this year.

“Perhaps I can give voice to the frustrations that exist with the political system,” Snowe said. “I’m going to be giving my voice to what should change here in the United States Senate and in Congress to get things done for the American people.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NRSC Insists They Are ‘Well Positioned’ to Win Senate Majority 

Ann Heisenfelt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) said Tuesday that despite the retirement of Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Republicans remain “well-positioned to win back a Senate majority in November.”

“Maine has a proud history of electing independent leaders, including a Republican governor in 2010, and while this will be a key battleground in the fall, I am confident it will remain in Republican hands,” Cornyn said.

The full statement from the NRSC chairman reads:

“Olympia Snowe has served her beloved state of Maine, and our country, with strong principles and great distinction for many years. As both a friend and a colleague, she will be missed, and I wish both her and her husband Jock all the best as they embark on the next chapter in careers dedicated to public service.

"While I would never underestimate the fight ahead in defending any open Senate seat, Republicans remain well-positioned to win back a Senate majority in November. Maine has a proud history of electing independent leaders, including a Republican Governor in 2010, and while this will be a key battleground in the fall, I am confident it will remain in Republican hands.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe to Retire

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, a three-term veteran from Maine, will not stand for re-election this fall. Snowe, one of the handful of moderates left in the Senate, said she is tired of the gridlock that has paralyzed Congress.

Snowe, 65, was one of just three Republicans to support President Obama’s stimulus package in 2009. Although she voted against the final health care bill in 2010, she was the only Republican Senator to vote for any version of the bill (she supported it in committee).

Her retirement is a big blow to Republican hopes of taking control of the Senate. With her seat almost certain to be picked up by a Democrat, Republicans would need to pick up a total of four seats (three if a Republican wins the White House) -- and not lose any of their own vulnerable seats like Scott Brown’s seat in Massachusetts -- in order to take control of the Senate.

In a paper statement announcing her retirement, Snowe said she does not “realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change.”

Snowe’s office said she will hold a news conference in Portland, Maine, in order to further discuss her decision when she returns to her home state on Friday.

Snowe’s full statement:

“After an extraordinary amount of reflection and consideration, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate.

After 33 years in the Congress this was not an easy decision.  My husband and I are in good health.  We have laid an exceptionally strong foundation for the campaign, and I have no doubt I would have won re-election.  It has been an indescribable honor and immeasurable privilege to serve the people of Maine, first in both houses of Maine’s legislature and later in both houses of Congress.  To this day, I remain deeply passionate about public service, and I cherish the opportunity I have been given for nearly four decades to help improve the lives of my fellow Mainers.

As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first day in the Maine House of Representatives.  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.

With my Spartan ancestry I am a fighter at heart; and I am well prepared for the electoral battle, so that is not the issue. However, what I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be.  Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail.

As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the  promise that is unique to America.

In the meantime, as I complete my third term, I look forward to continuing to fight for the people of Maine and the future of our nation.  And I will be forever and unyieldingly grateful for the trust that the people of Maine have placed in me, and for the phenomenal friendship and assistance I have received over the years from my colleagues, my supporters, and my staff, both in Maine and in Washington.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Address: '15 Trillion Reasons' for Balanced Budget Amendment

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine says there are "15 trillion reasons" to support a balanced budget amendment.  With the national debt at $15 trillion, Snowe says the United States has entered into a "economic danger zone."

"The fact is, debts and deficits do matter," Snowe said. "Our outstanding debt, which has now reached $15 trillion, has stunted economic growth, costing millions of American jobs.  Just as disturbingly, the government currently pays a staggering $200 billion per year in interest to foreign countries that hold our treasury bonds -- countries like China, and Russia."

Snowe added that the amount in interest paid to countries holding U.S. bonds is projected to grow to $1 trillion per year by 2021.

The "longtime champion of a balanced budget amendment" criticized Congress for not "doing its job" by passing the measure years ago.  

"Indeed, in the three short years since President Obama has taken office, the national debt has increased by nearly $5 trillion.  So when the president stated last summer that, 'We don't need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs,' well, not exactly. If Congress were capable of doing its job, it wouldn't have added nearly $10 trillion to our national debt since 1997, the year a balanced budget amendment failed to pass the Senate by just a single vote. Just imagine where we would be today, if we had accomplished then what we must achieve now," the senator says in the address.

After what Snowe calls an "inexcusable" 950 days without passing a federal budget, the first ever downgrade of the AAA credit rating in the U.S., and the supercommittee's failure to agree upon a deficit reduction plan, she says "the impending vote to amend the Constitution represents a choice between changing business as usual  in Washington, or embracing the status quo …"

Sen. Snowe claims the reason some lawmakers oppose the proposed amendment is that they wish to continue spending without restraint while promising to eventually balance the budget.

To that, Snowe says, "Well as we sadly know, the promises were empty, the debt is astronomical, and they way hasn't worked."

"Now it's time for our way."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tea Party Senator Won't Support Moderate Republican Olympia Snowe

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is a ripe target for a Tea Party challenge as she runs for re-election next year.

But she won't be able to count on support from all of her Republican colleagues -- at least not Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

When asked directly in an interview with ABC News if he will be endorsing Sen. Snowe, Toomey said, "Look, I think this is a very dynamic environment and probably almost every Republican senator's going to face a primary challenge."

While Toomey said he won't be supporting Snowe, he won't oppose her, either.

"I'm not going to be opposing," Toomey said.  "I'm not going to be getting involved in a lot of races."

The bottom line is Toomey will remain neutral in Maine and many other upcoming key Senate races.

Toomey rode the Republican wave of the last election cycle to Washington, helped in large part by the Tea Party.  Now a member of the government he once railed against, Toomey's views on opposing moderate Republicans clearly have changed, or at least softened.

Toomey was at the helm of the anti-tax organization Club for Growth in 2009 when it ran a $1.2 million ad against Snowe for her work with Democrats on the health care bill.  The organization also ran a flurry of ads against Snowe in 2003 when she voted against the Bush tax cuts.

"I've got plenty of work to do" in the Senate, Toomey said in response to why he'll be taking a more neutral approach this election cycle.  "That's what I'm focused on.''

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


START Picks Up Two Key Republican Votes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration and Senate Democrats on Friday picked up two important Republican votes for the New START nuclear treaty with Russia when Maine senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins threw their support behind the pact.

The backing of Snowe and Collins, the two moderate GOP lawmakers from Maine, means three Republican senators have now said they will vote for the treaty. Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was the first.

The treaty must receive 67 votes for Senate ratification, so Democrats will need to secure more GOP support to pass the pact.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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