NOTE: One Democratic insider said King’s entry into the race is a “big get” for the Democrats and their effort to hold the majority. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said he fully expects King to caucus with the Democrats if elected, based on discussions with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). But Cornyn made it clear he is not conceding the race and is hoping to help snag a formidable GOP challenger. Senate Democratic leaders were not forthcoming about the extent of their involvement, if any, in recruiting King to run or securing any commitment from him to caucus with their party. But Democratic operatives and top Republicans said they expect King to join the Democratic Conference if he is elected in November. Before King became an Independent, he identified as a Democrat. NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer accused Democrats of cutting a “backroom deal” with King, but Canney strongly denied the accusation.
From Roll Call:
Eight days after Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) turned the political world on its head with her retirement announcement, the succession battle has kept heads spinning.
The latest kink in both national parties’ plans was Rep. Chellie Pingree’s (D) Wednesday announcement that she would not seek the seat. That left Democratic, Republican and even Independent operatives scrambling.
At the center of all the drama is former Gov. Angus King (I), who announced Monday that he was launching his bid for the Senate. He is a serious contender and now the frontrunner for the seat. Speculation abounds about which political party he will chose to caucus with and how a possible Independent Senator could affect the balance of power in the Senate in 2013.
Democrats repeatedly said Pingree was their strongest potential candidate, but in her statement Wednesday, she said, “I concluded that I will best serve the people of Maine by running for re-election to the House.”
Former Gov. John Baldacci (D) and former Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap (D) are also in the early stages of building campaigns.
While the GOP field is also in flux, national Republicans spent most of the week fueling a narrative that Democrats pushed Pingree out of the race and that Senate Democratic leadership was secretly negotiating with King to join the caucus if elected.
Did National Democrats shove aside Chellie Pingree and drag Angus King into the race for Senate to ensure he would caucus with the Democrats if he wins? Maine deserves better than smoke-filled backroom deals. http://nrsc.org
Senate Democrats are buoyantly optimistic about keeping control of the upper chamber after developments this past week increased their chances of winning races in Maine and Nebraska. They sought to capitalize on the new wave of optimism by blasting out a fundraising email Friday touting the “seismic” shift of the Senate electoral map. “This week’s entry of Democrat Bob Kerrey into the Nebraska race and surprise retirement of Republican Senator Olympia Snowe in Maine have completely changed the face of the 2012 map in favor of Democrats,” Senate Democratic fundraisers wrote in their pitch. (The Hill, With Kerrey in the running and Snowe going, Senate Dems confident, 3/3/12)
One week ago, the Democrats were on the verge of re-recruiting Bob Kerrey, transforming Nebraska back into a battleground Senate race and Sen. Olympia Snowe had announced a jaw-dropping retirement that left Republicans reeling in the state of Maine. Now, former independent Gov. Angus King has thrown a wrench in Democratic plans for a pick-up and Kerrey is down double-digits in his comeback quest. It’s just a reminder of how volatile the battle for Senate control continues to be, due to the fluidity of a stack of individual races and unforeseen developments. (Politico, Don’t like the narrative? Wait a week, 3/6/12)
From the Associated Press:
PORTLAND — Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine has something quite valuable that she’s willing to share with fellow Republicans seeking her empty seat: her email list for voters.
Attorney General William Schneider, who’s exploring a Senate bid, asked to rent the Snowe campaign’s email list and reached terms of $150 per thousand names for one-time use.
Justin Brasell, Snowe’s campaign manager, says Snowe is interested in “helping good candidates get the necessary signatures to get on the ballot.” So far, Snowe has sent one email on behalf of Schneider, and another campaign has requested that she do the same thing.
Candidates must collect 2,000 signatures by March 15 to quality for the June primary.
Snowe has said she might endorse a candidate but Brasell says there are no discussions at the moment.
From the Waterville Morning Sentinel:
Under pressure from the national Democratic organization that is responsible for getting U.S. House members elected, Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine announced Thursday night that he won’t run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Olympia Snowe.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee feared that if Michaud ran for the Senate, it would harm the party’s chances of holding Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat, which Michaud has held since 2002, according to Democratic insiders with direct knowledge of the situation.
“The DCCC folks and Democratic leaders in the House are pushing Mike to stay” in the House, one Democratic operative said earlier Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Michaud’s campaign wouldn’t comment Thursday night on his reasons for not seeking the Senate seat. Michaud said in a release that “I want to continue to represent the wonderful people of Maine’s Second District and keep working on the unique issues and challenges we face.”
After Snowe’s stunning announcement Tuesday that she will not seek a fourth term, Michaud took out nomination papers Wednesday morning to run for Snowe’s seat.
Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine’s 1st Congressional District, has said she is strongly leaning toward a run for Senate. She, too, took out nominating papers Wednesday.
From Seacoast Online:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Maine 1st District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree talked like a candidate for the U.S. Senate on Thursday, two days after Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, stunned the state and nation by saying she will not seek re-election.
Although she left Washington for Maine on Thursday to talk with her family about a possible run, Pingree said “very likely, we’ll do it.”
Pingree is one of three Democrats to take out Senate candidacy petitions from the secretary of state’s office. Second District Congressman Michael Michaud and former Maine Gov. John Baldacci have as well.
As of Thursday afternoon, no Republicans had taken out petitions, although Secretary of State Charlie Summers and Senate President Kevin Raye are considering runs.
Democrats and Republicans have until March 15 to take out the papers and return them with 2,000 signatures. Members of both parties would choose a candidate during primary voting in June.
Also mulling bids for Snowe’s seat are two independents, former Gov. Angus King and former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler. They do not have to make a decision until June.
Pingree said she has to consider running for the seat Snowe will leave open.
In Maine, ABC News reports that NRSC Chairman John Cornyn thanked Senator Olympia Snowe for her service and expressed his confidence that the GOP remains well-positioned to win back a Senate majority in November. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (Texas) said Tuesday that despite the retirement of Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), Republicans remain “well-positioned to win back a Senate majority in November.” “Maine has a proud history of electing independent leaders, including a Republican governor in 2010, and while this will be a key battleground in the fall, I am confident it will remain in Republican hands,” Cornyn said.
- Speaking of Maine, note this graph from the Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy – The casual observer might see Maine as a solidly blue state, its two Republican U.S. Senators notwithstanding. A closer look, though, reveals a more complicated picture. In fact, Maine Democrats took quite a beating at the polls in 2010. Republican Paul LePage won the open-seat Governor’s race with 38 percent of the vote, followed by independent Eliot Cutler, who took 36 percent. Libby Mitchell, the Democratic nominee, placed third with just 19 percent. While both of the state’s Democratic House members were re-elected, it wasn’t by the comfortable margins they are accustomed to getting. In the state legislature, Republicans captured majorities in both chambers. Before the election, Democrats held a 95-seat to 55-seat (with one independent) majority that flipped to a Republican majority of 78 seats to 72 seats for Democrats with one independent. In the state Senate, Democrats saw their 20-seat to 15-seat advantage become a 20-seat Republican majority.
In Nebraska, where liberal Bob Kerrey continues to contemplate a run for the U.S. Senate, the Associated Press reports that Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Chuck Hassebrook is sticking in the race. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Chuck Hassebrook says he’s staying in the race, no matter who else enters it. Hassebrook’s message comes a day after news that former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey is reconsidering a run for the seat being vacated next year by Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson. Hassebrook said in a written release Tuesday that “any Nebraskan is welcome to enter this race. That is the nature of a healthy democracy.” But Hassebrook says no matter who else decides to run, he will not bow out.
- Meanwhile, the Omaha World-Herald reports that DNC Committeeman Vince Powers is firmly behind Hassebrook. I support Chuck Hassebrook, and I made my commitment to Chuck. Bob said he wasn’t running. It would have been great if he wanted to run. But he didn’t, and the train has left the station.
- Additionally, Nebraska Watchdog reports that Omaha’s Democrat Mayor Jim Suttle will also stand behind Hassebrook. Hassebrook said he talked to Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle today and Suttle — who has endorsed Hassebrook — said he will continue to stand by him.
- Finally, the McCook Daily Gazette reports that Kerrey is certainly to the left of most Nebraskans. He’s certainly to the left of most Nebraskans, particularly greater Nebraska, voting against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, opposing the flag burning amendment, receiving a 4 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee on abortion issues, and supporting universal health care in his presidential campaign, despite giving few of his restaurant or fitness club employees health insurance. He’s open to being accused of being a carpet bagger and an opportunist.
In Virginia, the Washington Times reports that George Allen has opened up a lead over former Democrat National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tim Kaine. For one of the first times in the campaign for U.S. Senate in Virginia, a poll shows significant daylight between Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, the parties’ frontrunners in the race to replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat. Mr. Allen holds an 45-37 over Mr. Kaine, up from a three-point margin in September, according to a Roanoke College Poll released Tuesday.
In Nevada, KTVN-TV in Reno reports that Senator Dean Heller challenged Interior Secretary Salazar about the rising gas prices in the Silver State. Gas prices have been rising steadily for the past month and today on the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Nevada’s Dean Heller questioned Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about how high oil prices would get. “The question I guess we need to ask ourselves is this the direction that this department is going, and are we at some point under your leadership will gas prices get to $10 a gallon?”
- Meanwhile, Senator Dean Heller helped save 300 jobs in Washoe County by keeping Reno’s main post office open for business. As the Reno Gazette-Journal reports: U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and [Congressman] Amodei took some credit when it was announced last week that Reno’s main post office would remain open. U.S. Postal Service officials were considering closing the Vassar Street facility and shipping our mail to West Sacramento to be sorted. It would have added a day to Reno-to-Reno mail delivery. … Heller and Amodei can use the USPS decision in their 2012 campaigns. Here is a good example of saving jobs — about 300 — and both can rightfully claim credit.
In Massachusetts, the Boston Herald reports that Senator Scott Brown held a pro-jobs forum for small businesses. Sen. Scott Brown called yesterday for the passage of his “crowd-funding” bill at a City Hall forum, saying it can help bring investors and small businesspeople seeking funding together. “We’re finding there’s a disconnect between people that want to get financing and lend and people who have great ideas, but they can’t draw that connection,” Brown said after moderating a panel on access to capital for small businesses. “The crowd-funding bill we talked about is a great bill. It’s ready to go and they won’t bring it up. It’s shocking to me and many Democrats. We need to get our country moving. We’re Americans first. We can work together on this issue.”
In Ohio, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that the GOP is pinning their hopes on Treasurer Josh Mandel. As the 2012 campaign heats up in Ohio, Republicans are pinning their hopes on a young Jewish military veteran to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown. Josh Mandel, a 34-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran and the current state treasurer, has faced a number of challenges but he is doing well in the polls. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll showed Mandel only four points behind Brown — a favorite of organized labor and liberals — in a hypothetical match-up.
- Meanwhile, WTVG-TV reports that Treasurer Mandel was in Toledo touting his pro-jobs agenda for the Buckeye State.
In North Dakota, KFYR-TV reports that Congressman Rick Berg helped secure $2 million for the city of Mandan for flood clean up. Congressman Rick Berg announced that Mandan will receive federal funds for flood clean up. The city will receive over $2.2 million in FEMA funds to help remove and dispose of temporary clay levees.
In Indiana, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports that the NRSC assailed liberal Democrat Joe Donnelly as an Obama loyalist. Brian Walsh, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, recently described Donnelly “a reliable vote for President Obama.”
In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that the most liberal member of the Wisconsin congressional delegation trails all three of her Republican rivals in a recent poll. In three matchups with Baldwin, Thompson has the strongest showing. Thompson is ahead 50%-36% over Baldwin. In a second matchup, former congressman Mark Neumann is ahead of Baldwin, 46%-37%. And in a third matchup, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) is ahead of Baldwin 41%-40%.
In Missouri, the St. Joseph News-Press reports that the three Republicans vying to take on Chameleon Claire McCaskill filed their candidacies yesterday. Missouri Republicans wasted no time Tuesday in joining the field for a chance to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. On Tuesday, national political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, writing in Roll Call, changed his forecast for Missouri’s Senate race from “tossup” to “tilts Republican.” Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, said on Tuesday, “In 2012, Republicans are well positioned to take back this country from the likes of Barack Obama, Claire McCaskill and Jay Nixon, and we are seizing this opportunity.”
- Also in Missouri, the Springfield News-Leader reports on how much trouble Chameleon Claire faces in her attempt for re-election. Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan political analyst in Washington, has knocked Sen. Claire McCaskill’s re-election prospects down a notch. In a take-out on the race published today, Rothenberg said he no longer the considers the race a “toss-up” that could go either way. “Republican insiders are already counting Missouri as a Senate pickup. It’s hard to argue with their reasoning, which is why I have moved Missouri from a pure tossup to a contest that now tilts Republican,” he wrote in a column today.
In New Jersey the Gloucester County Times reports that Republican State Senator Joe Kyrillos will be the keynote speaker at a GOP fundraiser in Gloucester County. Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) will be the keynote speaker at the Gloucester County Republican Party’s annual fundraiser tonight at Botto’s Italian Restaurant in Swedesboro, where party leaders are expected to announce their endorsements for United States Senate and Congress for 2012. … “We are thrilled to have Senator Kyrillos make the trip from Monmouth County to be our Keynote Speaker tonight, and to have him help us celebrate all the successful Republican candidates in Gloucester County last year,” said Gloucester County Republican Party Chairman Bill Fey. “This is another critical year in Gloucester County, with majority control of the Freeholder Board at stake, and we like our changes with the dynamic, one-two punch of Senator Kyrillos and Congressman Frank LoBiondo leading our local ticket here in Gloucester County.”
In West Virginia, the Record Delta reports that Republican John Raese is running for the Senate because our country can’t afford a Senate controlled by tax-and-spend Democrats. And that’s why Raese said he is running for office again. “Not for my children anymore, not for my grandchildren anymore — it’s for all of us,” he said. “This country is in a lot of trouble. We have got to pay more attention to what government is doing to us right now. If we put Obama back in the White House again and give him a Democratic Senate again, what are we going to have? Gridlock. “If you put Joe Manchin back in there for another six years — you are going to have gridlock, Obamacare and stimulus. This country can’t take it any longer.”
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will not run for re-election.
Said Snowe: “After an extraordinary amount of reflection and consideration, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate.”
This will come as surprise to exactly no one who’s been paying attention to politics, like ever, but I thought it was interesting that this rating came from the National Journal.
Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine are the two least conservative Republican senators, according to 2011 vote ratings released this morning by the nonpartisan National Journal
The publication issues its conservative and liberal rankings of members of Congress each year, putting together a composite score based on breaking down key votes on economic, social and foreign policy issues. Collins and Snowe have usually been in the middle of the Senate, among the least conservative Republicans but not as liberal as conservative Democrats.
Of the 47 Senate Republicans, Collins’ conservative rating comes in 47th, while Snowe’s rating comes in 46th.
The Maine twins certainly don’t do Conservatives or Republicans any favors, if any, so it’s good to know there is a primary process in place to, well, replace them… not that I expect that to happen any time soon up there in Maine!
Andrew Ian Dodge says he’s not happy with the way the GOP caucuses were handled and he now plans to run for Sen. Olympia Snowe’s seat as an independent.
Andrew Ian Dodge says he’s giving up his Republican primary challenge against Sen. Olympia Snowe. Dodge, a former tea party activist, told the Lewiston Sun Journal that he’s dropping out of the Republican Party and will run for the Senate seat as an independent.
Dodge, 43, told the paper he decided to leave the party because he wasn’t happy with the way the GOP caucuses were handled. He accused state GOP Party chair Charlie Webster of having a “patronizing attitude” toward those who complained.
Some party members were unhappy that Webster declared Mitt Romney the winner of Maine’s non-biding straw poll before all of the votes had been counted. Dodge told the paper he didn’t buy Webster’s explanation that some of the votes had been lost in his e-mail spam folder.
But Dodge was fighting a steep uphill battle against Snowe. He had yet to raise enough money to file a campaign finance report with the Federal Election Commission, the paper reports, and it’s not clear whether he had gathered the minimum 2,000 signatures needed to get on the June ballot. As an independent, Dodge has until June to collect 4,000 signatures to get on the November ballot.
Dodge was one of two candidates who had sought to challenge Snowe in the GOP primary. Scott D’Amboise of Lisbon Falls is now Snowe’s only challenger in the contest.