Maine Senator Olympia Snowe retires

Celebrated “moderate Republican” Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine – heavily favored to cruise to re-election next year, in a seat she held last time with 74 percent of the vote – issued a stunning retirement announcement on Tuesday.  She chose a devastating moment to retire, as her seat is highly likely to fall into Democrat hands, greatly complicating Republican efforts to gain control of the Senate.

The 65-year-old Snowe had been campaigning vigorously for re-election, and her announcement, reprinted in full by the Bangor Daily News, made it clear she was not moved by health concerns:

After 33 years in the Congress this was not an easy decision. My husband and I are in good health. We have laid an exceptionally strong foundation for the campaign, and I have no doubt I would have won re-election. It has been an indescribable honor and immeasurable privilege to serve the people of Maine, first in both houses of Maine’s legislature and later in both houses of Congress. To this day, I remain deeply passionate about public service, and I cherish the opportunity I have been given for nearly four decades to help improve the lives of my fellow Mainers.

And that’s why she’s going to hand you over to the party that thinks Catholics should be forced to sell condoms, America needs ten-dollar gas, a rapidly shrinking workforce is great, and $16 trillion in debt is not nearly enough.

So why did the famed Republican-In-Name-Only throw in the towel?

As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first day in the Maine House of Representatives. I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.

One last stab in the back for her nominal party on the way out the door.  Classy!  If only the Republicans would submit to the relentless progress of social history and stop resisting Democrat attempts to grow government, Washington would be a much less “polarized” place, and we could enter an era of aggressively mandated harmony.

Are you feeling charitable enough to suggest she might be holding Democrats responsible for that “polarization?”  Well, she could have said so… and she should have, considering that she knows full well the Republican Party faces an uphill battle to retain her seat.  The fact that she did not do this makes a deafening statement against conservatism, and puts Snowe firmly on the side of those who would drive America into bankruptcy and ruin.

After a disastrous Democrat President has laid waste to both America’s economy and economic liberty (and, increasingly, other previously inalienable rights), and a Democrat-controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in over a thousand days, Snowe says she’s retiring because there’s too much vigorous debate in the Senate. 

Remember, she’s one of the midwives of ObamaCare – she teamed up with the Democrats and voted to get that ruinous legislation onto the Senate floor.  She was fine with all the corrupt backroom deals and blind power grabs required to produce a bill that she, along with every single politician who voted for it, failed to read, but now she thinks the Senate is too polarized to complete an easy re-election bid and hold on to her seat for the good of her party, in an election of historic significance?  To the last, she grapples with thee, Republicans.  From Hell’s heart she stabs at thee; for hate’s sake, she spits her last breath at thee.

Is Snowe’s retirement decision sheer madness?  No!  THIS… IS… SPARTA!

With my Spartan ancestry I am a fighter at heart; and I am well prepared for the electoral battle, so that is not the issue. However, what I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be. Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail.

It’s a pity she couldn’t have delivered this statement live on the Senate floor, and concluded by kicking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell down a well.

Snowe’s true friends in the Democrat Party were understandably ecstatic at the wonderful surprise gift she gave them.  “Maine is now a top pick up opportunity for Senate Democrats.  If there is one place in the country that is likely to reject the extreme, anti-middle class, divisive Republican agenda it is Maine. Democrats not only hold a strong registration advantage in the state, but this is a state that the president won by 17 points in 2008 and will likely win by a significant margin this year as well,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee executive director Guy Cecil told Politico.

A delighted President Barack Obama also issued a statement on the Snowe retirement, which MSNBC notes is unusual, because he has not previously issued such statements when Republican senators Jon Kyl or Kay Bailey Hutchison retired. 

For nearly four decades, Olympia Snowe has served the people of the great state of Maine.  Elected to the state House in 1973, Olympia went on to be the first woman in American history to serve in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of Congress.  From her unwavering support for our troops, to her efforts to reform Wall Street, to fighting for Maine’s small businesses, Senator Snowe’s career demonstrates how much can be accomplished when leaders from both parties come together to do the right thing for the American people. Michelle and I join Mainers in thanking Senator Snowe for her service, and we wish her and her family all the best in the future.

Since that wonderful bi-partisan uniter Snowe made a point of taking her own party completely by surprise with her retirement – even though Politico quotes a campaign aide who said “the senator had been wrestling with the decision for weeks” – the Republicans are in a tough spot.  Snowe had a primary challenger, town selectman Scott D’Amboise, but the Maine GOP director wasn’t brimming with confidence at his chances of defeating the suddenly energized Maine Democrats:

Maine GOP executive director Michael Quatrano couldn’t name a candidate who would be equipped to step in on such short notice, but said the recruitment process would begin in earnest.

“We’ve got to see how things play out. We’ll have to see what kind of candidate wants to step forward,” he said.

Asked if D’Amboise could carry the party banner, Quatrano replied, “He was challenging Olympia from the right, so I don’t know.”

The Republicans only have until March 15 to come up with an alternative candidate, and put together 2,000 signatures to get him or her on the ballot.  It looks like D’Amboise might indeed be the one to carry that party banner.  Return home with your shield or on it, Spartan.