Speculation has already begun in the frenzy that was created after Senator Snowe announced she would not be seeking re-election to the United States Senate.
What caused this? Who will run to replace her? Can anyone do it with the March filing deadline?
Senator Snowe’s decision to not seek re-election is nothing short of a political earthquake that fundamentally changes the dynamic of every single federal race in Maine in 2012. Both Democratic House Members, Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud, will now be taking a look at a promotion to the Senate.
If Michaud jumps in, Senate President Kevin Raye will have a decision to make: as the strongest potential Republican who could potentially replace Snowe, will he take a chance on a competitive Senate race, or will he take an almost guaranteed House seat?
If Pingree jumps in, that leaves the door open for her daughter, former Speaker of the Maine House Hannah Pingree, to run in her stead and create a true Maine political dynasty, as she would likely win that seat easily.
Several Republicans are currently working behind the scenes to position for a run, because the party will not tolerate Scott D’Amboise as their nominee. Names currently being circulated are Kevin Raye, former gubernatorial candidate Steve Abbott, Secretary of State Charlie Summers, former Ambassador Peter Cianchette, Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, and others. Whoever wants to move on this has to do so quickly, because the filing deadline is March.
Another factor will be whether or not Eliot Cutler wants to take a shot at the open seat, which will dramatically change the dynamic all around. If he does, he will immediately create a three way matchup and guarantee one of the most interesting Senate races in the country in 2012.
Snowe’s reason for taking a pass on re-election, especially when she was so enthusiastically running up to this point, and especially as close to the filing deadline as this is, are mysterious. As I said before, this kind of thing does not happen in politics.
I am told her own staff was unaware of this decision until just hours before the statement went out – just long enough to actually work on the release and send it out.
Political earthquake, indeed.