Since it was reported last week that Maine Attorney General William Schneider sent out his campaign announcement to her email list, rumors have been swirling that retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe might just be hoping to pick her successor. After all, Schneider deserves some loyalty, haven been given the thankless job of serving as Snowe’s surrogate last month — a move which involved addressing a somewhat hostile crowd during a Maine GOP caucus.
Now, Steve Mistler, a respected Maine State House reporter for the Sun Journal, is hearing the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) “has dispatched staffers to help gather signatures” for Schneider to get on the ballot (the deadline is rapidly approaching).
This obviously raises speculation that Snowe and the NRSC might be conspiring to make Schneider the nominee. A source informs me that the NRSC is now also working to help ex-Maine Senate President Rick Bennett. (But my source notes that while it took some push-back to persuade the committee to help Bennett, the NRSC started assisting Schneider’s campaign almost immediately.)
There are, of course, reasonable explanations. The AP reports today that Snowe’s campaign manager explains that Snowe is simply interested in “helping good candidates get the necessary signatures to get on the ballot.” My sources on the ground suspect Snowe (or her people) and national establishment Republicans are circling the wagons for Schneider.
The really interesting question (for me at least) is whether or not national conservatives will even care? Let’s assume Snowe and the NRSC are conspiring to pick a nominee. Would conservatives try to upset the establishment’s apple cart by backing a more conservative senate nominee? — or would they assume that, in Maine, a liberal Republican might be as good as it gets?
Either way, the notion that conservatives should hold their noses for Schneider because he is best-suited to run a statewide campaign seems dubious. He is a former State Rep. And, more importantly, in Maine, the attorney general is picked by the legislature; they aren’t actually elected by the voters. He has no record of winning statewide.