U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, Republican of Maine, has just dropped a bombshell: She will not be running for re-election later this year.
From her announcement:
“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.
“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.
“As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America.”
Her announcement is certain to set off another round of partisan sniping about which side is more to blame for creating all the partisan sniping.
In terms of raw politics, though, the decision has to be seen as an advantage for the Democrats. They had little shot at unseating Snowe as an incumbent; an open seat becomes a lot more vulnerable.
As Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight just tweeted, “We had estimated GOP’s chances of holding Maine senate at 85% before. Maybe 20-30% now after Snowe retirement.”
– Jay Bookman