PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The political picture in Maine left murky by Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe's decision to not seek a fourth term started coming into focus Friday, but two potential top-tier Democratic candidates said they still haven't decided whether to run for Snowe's seat.
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine's 1st Congressional District, said Friday that she'll spend the weekend discussing her options with family members. A spokesman for former Gov. John Baldacci, who also served four terms in the House, said he's still mulling it over.
Other politicians who earlier expressed interest in the Senate seat have announced their intentions to stay out of the race.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, has decided he'll run for re-election in November. Republican state Senate President Kevin Raye, who once served as Snowe's chief of staff, said he'll stick with his original plan of challenging Michaud for his seat rather than running for the Senate.
Snowe's surprise decision has set off a scramble because just two weeks remain for candidates to collect 2,000 signatures before a deadline to qualify for the June primary ballot. Four Democrats previously announced they're running in the primary. Scott D'Amboise of Lisbon Falls, who lost a congressional election in 2006, is the only GOP candidate so far, but other Republicans — including Secretary of State Charles Summers, Attorney General William Schneider and former state Sen. Richard Bennett — are considering it.
Snowe was expected to have little problem winning a fourth term, but her seat could now fall to the Democrats with her departure.
Pingree told reporters Friday that she expects the final field to fall into place in short order.
"There are a lot of dominoes that could fall and pretty soon they'll all start moving," she said.
Snowe cited partisanship as one reason she's not seeking re-election, and Michaud echoed her sentiments.
"I join many Mainers in being frustrated with how Washington operates and believe that both sides of Capitol Hill have fallen into a partisan rut. However, I am proud of being able to work across the aisle to deliver results, and I think, for now, I can best continue those efforts in the House," he said.
Raye said he hoped to continue Snowe's legacy. "The unique combination of my years of experience working at her side in Maine and Washington, along with my proven leadership in the Maine Senate, have prepared me to carry on her legacy of constructive problem-solving to help make Washington work again," he said.
Pingree said she's confident voters will return a Democrat to the Senate for the first time since former Sen. George Mitchell decided not to run for re-election in 1994.
"I feel confident this is a seat I can win, that the Democrats will put a lot of attention and focus on given the national interest in this seat and the way it may affect the balance of the United States Senate," she said. "I feel very confident about the outcome of this race, that whoever runs it will be a Democratic Senate seat."Tags: