In Surprise Move, Sen. Snowe From Maine Announces She Will Not Run for Reelection

February 28, 2012 08:06 PM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Snowe move another hurdle for Republicans to gain control of Senate

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) in an unexpected move announced Feb. 28 that she will not seek reelection in November and will retire when her third term ends in early 2013. The move gives Democrats a prime pickup opportunity in the Nov. 6 elections.

Snowe's decision was based on how productive a fourth term would be in the increasingly polarizing climate of Washington, the 65-year-old said in a statement. "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," she said.

Snowe, a senior member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, has been a senator for 18 years. She also served in the House before her Senate election, making her total congressional tenure 34 years.

Comments: The development led election-year watchers to put the Maine race either in the toss up category, or Democratic leaning. Snowe was expected to win her reelection race had she not decided to retire – she never won a Senate race with less than 60 percent of the vote, and she won her last race in 2006 with 74 percent of the vote. A moderate Republican, Snowe during the 111th Congress supported multiple extensions of unemployment benefits, Wall Street reform, economic stimulus measures and worked extensively in the Finance Committee to write what would become the Democrats’ signature health care law.

In the 2012 Senate races, 23 Democrats are up for reelection and only 10 Republicans. The Republicans would need a net gain of four seats to capture control of the Senate if President Obama wins reelection; a net gain of three seats would be needed if Obama's challenger wins (the vice president breaks tie votes in the Senate). While that math has most election experts predicting a GOP Senate takeover, a state-by-state review of the election contests shows the Democrats have a shot of keeping control.

If Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) loses his reelection bid to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, the Snowe retirement means Collins and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) could be the only Senate Republicans left from the Northeast next year. Also, news that former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) is reconsidering a run for Senate for retiring Sen. Ben Nelson's (D) seat would turn that race into a competitive contest. In North Dakota, sources signal the Republicans may have a far more difficult job than most now think in picking up the retiring seat of Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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