Summers makes valuable hire in campaign for Snowe’s Senate seat

Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers has hired respected strategist Lance Dutson to manage his campaign, sources say, a valuable hire that will add credibility to the Republican’s bid for retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe’s Senate seat.

A source close to the campaign confirmed the hire.

Dutson is considered a serious up-and-comer in the Maine political scene. He was named one of the 25 most influential people in Maine politics by the Bangor Daily News’ Pine Tree Politics blog last year. Currently, he serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, which Pine Tree Politics describes as the “single most powerful and important think tank in the state of Maine” and “the microphone for the conservative movement.”

Previously, he worked for Maine’s other Senator, Susan Collins, and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

The hire indicates that the Summers campaign plans to run a top-tier operation.

“Strategically this is a very good move,” said one Maine political strategist. “It sends the right signal to the DC money crowd that the Summers campaign is gearing up for battle on a whole new level. Frankly that is exactly what they need to do.”

Summers faces a tough road to the Senate. His major opponent is Independent former Gov. Angus King, a politician who remains wildly popular in the state. King has refused to say which party he would caucus with in the Senate, but the consensus is that it will be the Democrats.

Summers’ popularity is lower; he pulled off a victory over a crowded field of Republican opponents, largely due to high name identification from previous runs. He is also facing the prospect of running without the support of Sen. Snowe. Summers, a former Snowe staffer, declined to endorse the senator when she was facing a primary challenge last year from tea party candidate Scott D’Amboise, creating a rift between the two that recently became public.

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