Representatives Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud both say they're likely to seek the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe. Former Governor John Baldacci has also taken out papers to run. If no one turns away, it could become one of the biggest and most important Democratic primaries in Maine history.
According to the Huffington Post, Pingree and Michaud huddled on the House floor yesterday to discuss the race, with neither backing down from their plans.
Pingree also went on MSNBC last night, sounding very much like a candidate:
I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with the compromise that Obama announced yesterday on religious-affiliated non-profits and birth control. You can read the full details here.
In particular, it hits dead center on the (not-very-convincing) aguments Snowe and Collins used when they recently reversed themselves on the issue, which I outlined at Down East. It's hard to see a rhetorically-consistent way for them to fail to support his plan.
One of Snowe's Republican Primary challengers, Scott D'Amboise, revealed in an interview with a writer for former Bush aide David Frum's blog FrumForum that he doesn't believe President Obama is a Christan.
The piece quotes D'amboise as saying "The President, he says he is Christian but yet he’s exercises a lot of Muslim faith too. Me personally, I’m a Christian conservative. I don’t hold any malice to anybody, whether they are Muslim, or Jewish, or Catholic, or anything else. I just believe that he needs to come forward with his views a little bit clearer."
Asked if he believed Obama is a secret muslim, D'Amboise apparently responded "I don’t know if he is or isn’t, but I don’t believe he’s a Christian."
The blog post isn't the best written piece on the internet, and does a lot of characterizing of D'Amboise's opinions while only providing very short quotes from the candidate, but the statements above seem both clear and extreme.
This week in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel I write about two letters. One was signed by 44 Republican Senators, including Snowe and Collins, in which they threaten to hold hostage any attempt to appoint a head of the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless the agency itself is weakened. The other is signed by a number on House Democrats, including Congresswoman Pingree, urging President Obama to respond to the threat by appointing populist consumer champion and financial regulation expert Elizabeth Warren through a recess appointment.
While I wasn't able to reach Congressman Mike Michaud before deadline, his office later sent word that while he hasn't signed the letter, he doesn't support weakening the CFPB.
"He believes the Senate should act expeditiously to confirm someone for the position so that the law Congress passed, and the American people overwhelmingly supported, can be fully implemented," said Michaud spokesman Ed Gilman by email.
Over at Down East, I take a look at second-place 2010 gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler's campaign to stay politically relevant and discuss his recent telephone town hall.
In that post, I mention that the event prompted an anticipatory front page story in the Portland Press Herald last week. A second article on the town hall made the paper's front page yesterday.
While it's obvious that Cutler is still looking for an opportunity to gain public office, it appears he won't be challenging Senator Olympia Snowe in 2012. In a recent interview with Roll Call, Cutler stated that he has "no desire to live in Washington" and has "been very clear in Maine I don't intend to leave the state." Cutler told the D.C. publication that a second attempt at the Blaine House in 2014 "depends on a lot of circumstances."
Click here for an mp3 of the No Labels conference call with Cutler and Crist.
In the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel this week, I take a look at some recent maneuvering concerning the 2012 Senate race.
Snowe's announced Republican primary challengers, Andrew Ian Dodge and Scott D'Amboise, may not have what it takes to deny the senior senator her re-election, but there's plenty of time for a more credible opponent to emerge and there seems to be lots of local and national support available for a challenger's campaign.
At Down East earlier this week, I discussed Snowe's responses to a tea party questionnaire, which seems to be another example of her tacking rightward in an attempt to overcome a primary.
If the unlikely came to pass and Snowe was defeated for the 2012 GOP nomination, she would not be able to gain ballot status for the general election as an independent or third party candidate, as Joe Lieberman did in Connecticut in 2006. I believe she would, however, still be able to contest the election as a write-in candidate as Lisa Murkowski did, successfully, in Alaska last year.
As long expected, Maine Tea Party Patriots coordinator Andrew Ian Dodge has announced his intention to challenge Sen. Olympia Snowe in the Republican primary next year.
I wrote about Mr. Dodge earlier this winter at Newsweek.com, as he is perhaps the most visible figure in a Libertarian effort to fend off the Christian Right's growing influence in the Tea Party movement. Social issues, he argues, don't matter; getting government out of people's lives does. While no fan of Maine's Tea Party-backed governor, Paul LePage, Dodge is also hostile to Sen. Snowe, who he denounces as Republican In Name Only.
Quote of the day:
"I like Olympia Snowe, I think she fights hard for the people of Maine[...] Olympia Snowe -- I voted for her in the last election and I will vote for her until the day she dies, because she fights for Maine."
- Pat McGowan on MPBN
Senators Snowe and Collins joined fellow Republican Senators Kit Bond, George Voinovich and newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown in breaking with their party to vote down a filibuster.