Maine Senator Olympia Snowe announces she won't seek reelection

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Olympia Snowe, three-term moderate Republican United States Senator from Maine, announced yesterday that she will not seek election to a fourth term in the 2012 elections.

Official photo of Sen. Olympia Snowe, 2009.
Image: Office of Senator Olympia Snowe.

In her announcement, Snowe cited the "atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies" as a reason for not seeking reelection to another term in the U.S. Senate. The announcement, which was released by Snowe's campaign office this afternoon, was later confirmed by Justin Brasell, the Senator's campaign manager.

According to a campaign aide to Snowe, Sharon Miller, the senator had been considering the decision for several weeks; "She was really struggling with it. But her timing is the same as Sen. George Mitchell and Sen. Bill Cohen, who also made their decisions very close to the deadline".

Snowe served in the United States Congress for 33 years. Fellow Maine Senator Susan Collins said the announcement was a "complete surprise", and that it "devastated" her.

Snowe's decision not to seek reelection to her Senate seat has energized Democrats, who have a chance at winning the seat this fall, helping to defend their 51 seat to 47 seat majority in the body.

The announcement also took Senate Republican leadership by surprise; minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn of Texas reportedly were informed of Snowe's decision yesterday. According to one Republican, Snowe had sent a fundraiser invitation out on Monday.

Those mentioned as possible contenders for Snowe's Senate seat include 2002 Republican gubernatorial candidate Peter Cianchette, Snowe's husband and Republican former Maine Governor Jock McKernan, and Democratic Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud.