Snowe melts with dim Republican prospects
Olympia Snowe may have been a good candidate for President. She is reasonable and has broad appeal. Romney too is reasonable with potentially broad appeal. However, his laundry has been soiled.
“Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) says she’ll retire, citing partisanship in Congress
Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, the iconic Republican moderate from Maine, announced her retirement from the Senate on Tuesday, saying she would not seek a fourth term because political partisanship has made the Senate unproductive.
“Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term,” Snowe said. “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.”
Snowe has made a reputation, over 33 years in Congress, as someone eager to build political bridges between moderates from both parties. But in recent years, she has become an increasingly isolated voice in a Congress hobbled by partisan gridlock.
Snowe’s biography is the stuff of a Capra movie. By the time she was 10, both her parents had died — her mother of breast cancer and her father of a heart attack. She was taken in by her aunt and uncle, and shortly after graduating from the University of Maine, she married Peter Snowe, a state legislator. He died in a car crash in 1973.
At 26, she ran for and won his seat, and she was elected to Congress from the state’s northern House district in 1978. Once on the Hill, she began dating the other member of Maine’s House delegation, John “Jock” McKernan; they became the state’s leading power couple when he went on to become governor, and they married in 1989.
Given her continued popularity, her retirement is a rebuke to the partisanship that has come to define the political times in Washington. Snowe’s willingness to compromise and work with the other side has frequently put her out of step with her party, and Democrats have often looked to her as one of the Republicans willing to break ranks with the GOP leadership. Snowe’s reputation as a moderate has grown as fewer and fewer senators on either side of the aisle have been willing to take bipartisan actions.
But it has also become harder to get elected by advocating moderation and compromise. In recent years, Republican senators in particular have been under pressure from tea party elements in their party to abandon the middle or face primary challenges from the right.
In a sign of the increasingly unique place Snowe holds in the Senate, President Obama issued a statement Tuesday evening praising his former Senate colleague. “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,” he said.
Snowe, 65, comes from a long tradition of moderate New England Republicans, dating to the 1950s, when her political idol, the late Maine senator Margaret Chase Smith, led the effort to rebuke McCarthyism. Though they had some success in the 2010 midterm elections, the moderate GOP’s ranks in New England could be reduced to just two senators and possibly no House members after November.
Snowe is the sixth moderate senator — two Republicans and four Democrats — to announce that they will not seek reelection this year.”