Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe’s announcement yesterday that she would not seek re-election shocked even close insiders.
“To say a nuclear blast went off in Maine politics would be an understatement,” one source said. “This is a lot of chaos for both parties to manage here.”
So why did she decide to get out so abruptly?
Snowe’s decision to forgo another run may well have been brought on by her recent participation in the Maine caucuses (a two-week process, where the candidates actually travel around the state). One source tells me she seemed “defensive” about her record when addressing the caucuses.
The Bangor Daily News reported: “She was booed by some attending a Republican caucus in Bangor earlier this month.”
“She got the shit kicked out of her in the caucuses by the Ron Paul people,” adds one of my sources.
To give you an idea of how things went, here is another news report from February 19:
During one of his recent stops in Maine, Paul’s state campaign chairman drew cheers when he told 2,000 supporters on a wintry day in Lewiston that it was time for “Snowe removal.”
Snowe, for her part, doesn’t like to be pigeonholed. She considers herself a fiscal conservative while she’s moderate on social issues such as abortion.
“While we may have differences, the undeniable common denominator that binds us is the traditional Republican principles of personal responsibility and limited government,” she said, proclaiming that she’s a lifelong Republican who always has supported fellow Republicans in Maine.
Maine’s Republican Party has undergone a shift to the right that became clear last summer when the tea party commandeered the party platform, going beyond traditional conservative staples to propose abolishing the U.S. Department of Education, sealing the U.S. border and taking steps to eliminate the Federal Reserve.
Is it a coincidence that Snowe decided not to seek re-election, just weeks after being booed at a Republican meeting?
My sources indicate that Snowe was sincere regarding her concern that an “atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.” And it is true that she would have likely won re-election.
Still, it seems likely the primary source of her frustration was the political scene in Maine — not in Washington, DC.