The Tea Party effect may have hit Maine’s sometimes-liberal Republican Senator Olympia Snowe on Friday as a new Public Policy Polling poll suggested she might have to consider running as a Democrat in 2012 if she wants to keep her job – something that conservative Scott D’Amboise, who announced his candidacy back in February, is jumping at.
In a phone interview with The Daily Caller, D’Amboise said the poll illustrates Maine conservatives’ disappointment with Snowe’s voting record and that he isn’t surprised that Snowe’s popularity among Maine Democrats is growing. He said he’d “definitely” call Snowe a RINO, or Republican in Name Only.
“Realistically, she’d be very hard to beat as an independent or a Democrat,” D’Amboise said. “A lot of Republicans in the state are upset with her voting record and what has happened over the past few terms she has served. Conservative Republicans, in particular, and conservative independents are looking to make a change and feel that they have lost confidence in her ability to, especially on the Republican side, stay on the more conservative side.”
Snowe was the only Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee to vote in favor of Obamacare. Though she didn’t vote for the final version of the bill in December 2009, it was Snowe’s vote that got the bill over its final hurdles and onto the Senate floor.
D’Amboise held just one political office in his life: He was a town selectman for one term, and didn’t run for re-election because he had promised his community he wouldn’t. He also ran and lost in a Republican primary for one of Maine’s two congressional representative seats.
D’Amboise launched his current senatorial campaign more than two years before the 2012 election because he said Snowe’s connections and financial backers are going to be tough to beat.
“She hasn’t had anyone run against her in the primary ever, except maybe for her first term,” D’Amboise said. “No one would dare challenge her.”
He said Snowe has a “political machine” behind her and he needs to be ready for a rough race over the next couple years.
D’Amboise said disappointment with Snowe runs deep in Maine, and he attributes it to more than just her voting record – and it extends to the state’s congressional representatives and Senator Susan Collins.
“They don’t come and talk to us,” D’Amboise said. “Not one of them held a town meeting last year. Not one town meeting. They don’t listen to ‘We the People.’”
D’Amboise’s campaign, at this point, is volunteer-only and isn’t in full swing yet, because he doesn’t want to take the momentum away from the state’s ongoing gubernatorial and congressional races. But, his supporters are working on making sure he’s got a shot come 2012.
Erin Foglietta, a graphic designer in Maine volunteering for D’Amboise’s campaign, created his website, because she believes in his message and is fed up with Snowe’s lack of dependability.
“I know that he [D’Amboise] is a genuine person and wants to take government back to something that is trustworthy,” Foglietta told TheDC in a phone interview.
Foglietta said D’Amboise’s early announcement for candidacy is a way for him to be ready to roll when the time comes.
Paul Trommer, an active conservative in the state, said Maine’s “welfare-friendly” rating is unbelievable and he thinks D’Amboise will be able to fix it.
“We’re a welfare basket-case,” Trommer told TheDC in a phone interview. “Maine has instant welfare. For instance, if you show up, get off the bus, you instantly have welfare.”
Trommer said people come to Maine from New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Massachusetts and elsewhere to get free health care, because, he said, the state’s long-term influence from Democrats and RINOs has badly affected the system.
“In Bangor, we wonderful medical facilities, with two hospitals,” Trommer said. “We have people coming in on the bus and they’ll walk in for medical treatment and they have to be treated.”
Foglietta wouldn’t even call Snowe a RINO.
“I’d classify her [Snowe] as a Democrat, a liberal Democrat,” Foglietta told TheDC.
Foglietta has both noticed a more active conservative voter base in Maine.
“I’ve noticed an upwards swing of rallies up here,” Foglietta said. “I think it’s because people are starting to pay attention.”
D’Amboise hasn’t yet reached out to Sarah Palin’s Tea Party Express or Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, but said he plans to look for some more organized help after the November midterm elections are over.
Snowe didn’t return phone calls or voicemails from TheDC seeking comment.