Campaign Season Gets More Interesting Following Snowe’s Retirement Decision 

Senator Olympia Snowe’s decision not to seek re-election is the first of what will likely be many interesting changes to this campaign season.Snowe said it was a difficult decision to make, but it came after growing frustration with partisanship in the senate.In an interview with TV5 she said, “It is with mixed feelings that I’ve made this decision because I love the Senate, I love working for the people of Maine, I love public service and the essence of it is to solve problems which, regrettably, is not happening in the Senate, certainly to the degree that we should, given the times that we’re in.”While many see her retirement as a loss for the state, some Maine politicians see it as an opportunity.”There’s a lot of high level politicians in Maine who are thinking about their chances. Is this the time for them to run for the senate seat?,” said UMaine Associate Professor of Political Science Mark Brewer.That question isn’t one they have a lot of time to consider. Potential candidates have only two weeks to gather the necessary 2,000 signatures to get on the June primary ballot.”It just doesn’t give you a lot of time to contemplate or to see what other people are going to do because for a lot of these people, what they do is contingent on what other people decide. It’s a really tight window,” said Brewer.Three major democratic players have already picked up petitions to run. The Secretary of State’s office says Rep. Mike Michaud and former Governor John Baldacci have taken out papers to enter the senate race. Rep. Chellie Pingree said in a statement that she’s starting to gather signatures for a possible senate campaign. There were already four democratic candidates running for Snowe’s seat. Scott D’Amboise is the only announced candidate from the Republican party. Others may still come forward. Secretary of State Charlie Summers and State Senate President Kevin Raye, both Republicans, are considering getting into the race. Former independent Governor Angus King is also reportedly weighing a run. “I think that’s going to be obviously up to the people of Maine, the issues, what positions or candidate they’d prefer. So I think it will be a very competitive race irrespective,” said Snowe.Other candidates are eyeing Maine’s two congressional seats if Michaud and Pingree both officially enter the senate race. So far seven people have picked up petitions to run for the first district. Three others have received the paperwork to run for the second district.