Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Long Knives

Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe inspire a lot of distrust and opposition from Democrats and moderates in Maine, especially with their recent votes on issues such as war, tax cuts, Gonzales, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the bankruptcy bill, to name a few (and we'll most likely be adding a vote for Bolton to that list in the near future). But when discussing the Senators with those on the left, you're more likely to hear disappointment than anger.

The same isn't true for those on the conservative right (thankfully a small minority in this state). Any discussion of Snowe and Collins seems to begin and end with seething hatred. The nicest name they usually get called is "traitor".

While discussing the nuclear option compromise, MB recently linked to a discussion on the right-wing bulletin board "As Maine Goes" that perfectly illustrates this point.

This hatred isn't a recent development. In fact, those on the far-right (and those on AMG in particular, whom Al Diamon describes as a "dozen or so right-wing nuts"), have long been airing their strong feelings about the Senators, a fact that has caused some trouble even within the Republican party apparatus itself.
Which brings us to Scott Fish, the top PR flack for Maine Republicans in Augusta for most of the 1990s. GOP House Leader Tom Murphy fired Fish last week for exercising "questionable judgment" in his after-hours editorship of "As Maine Goes," the conservative Web site. Fish's crime was not moving fast enough to remove vulgar e-mail postings by several readers who characterized Sen. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins as women of loose virtue because they voted against removing Clinton from office.
- Bangor Daily News, January 12, 2000

Most recently, this hatred has led to an effort among national right-wing bloggers to halt donations to the NRSC for fear that some money might go to moderate Senators. Snowe and Collins are often mentioned by name.

It has also led to the possible candidacy here in Maine of ultra-conservative Brian Duprey of Hampden who wants to challenge Snowe in next year's Republican Senate primary. A recent Roll Call article (which I haven't read) apparently reports that Duprey is still exploring a run.

In Maine, this heat from the right is electoral gold for Snowe and Collins. It gives them the political cover they need among independents and moderates to continue supporting the Republican agenda on a wide range of issues and allows them to help maintain GOP control of the Senate. Their incumbency and name recognition are enough to squash most challengers and the angry clamor from the right makes it hard for even a dynamic, progressive Democratic candidate (see Pingree, Chellie) to differentiate themselves enough in the public eye.

Visit the new Maine Politics.


Hi Mike,

Just wanted to say that I've been reading your blog for several weeks now, and I've enjoyed pretty much everything you've written. I worked for Chellie's campaign back in 2002, and you're absolutely on the dot. A lot of people think Chellie lost because of her campaign, which is a major misconception. Collins, as with Snowe, simply has so much popularity amongst the moderates in both parties that, with all her gifts, Chellie couldn't get close enough to be competitive, let alone win. On the other hand, a 58-42 win for a Senate incumbent is the lowest in modern Maine history, so go figure. Guess Mainers really like their incumbents!

Anyway, keep up the great work!  

Posted by Stephen Yellin

5/29/2005 05:36:00 PM


Mr. Yellin is engaging in revisionist history. Two Senate incumbents got beat when running for re-election in the 1970's. I think that qualifies as modern Maine history. 

Posted by George

5/29/2005 08:03:00 PM


John had much better numbers in '02, and he still had to do suppression in YoCo to keep Chellie's numbers from being better than his.

John's numbers in '06 are pretty lame. I can't see Dems with grey matter lining up to have their GOTV cut from above when running against an incumbant R in a high-profile statewide. 

Posted by Eric Brunner-Williams

5/29/2005 08:49:00 PM



What I said was that it was the lowest WINNING margin for an inucmbent in modern history. Yes, Margaret Chase Smith and Bill Hathaway lost-but since I was referring to winning margins, they don't count.  

Posted by Stephen Yellin

5/29/2005 08:53:00 PM


With the polling coming out this week showing that Olympia only has a 51 percent approval rating in the Maine GOP circle give people like myself quite a lot of hope. It shows me that Olympia can get beat in a GOP primary if the right person is run against her. Personally I think that she needs to go or switch her party from Republican to either Independent or go Democrat, but I think Independent would better suit her. I am the Director of one GOP Executive Committees here in the State and I know for a fact that 5 out of the 12 Executive Committees have written to Olympia and have pledged their efforts to make sure she doesn't does not win re-election, and by the end of August I believe the number will be up to 8 of the 12 GOP County Executive Committees. I honestly think that with the right person to run against her, because of the some decisions she has made recently and because of her voting record, she could lose in a primary. Recently at meeting of the GOP State Committee I know that many people in leadership positions feel like Olympia has lost track of her GOP principles and that she has walked away from the party that she places beside her name. I have great respect for Representive DePrey and if he puts his name in to run against Olympia then he will certianly have my support and the support of the many people in the State of Maine who are getting tired of the moderates in office, both in Augusta and Washington DC, not accomplishing anything. Also on a side note with John Baldacci's approval rate down to 29% that shows me that he is certianly not doing well enough to win a second term against a strong GOP candidate. 

Posted by Matt McDonald

5/29/2005 09:56:00 PM


Thanks Stephen, I've actually read some of your stuff as well.

Did you ever get that PAC off the ground you were working on? 

Posted by Mike

5/29/2005 10:56:00 PM


Yes Mike, we did. I'm not actually in charge of it now, but Dave Mauro is doing an excellent job with GEPAC (Generation Election PAC). We currently have over 100 members nationwide and growing (that number may be lower than reality, but I'm taking a conservative estimate), and we're 1-0 with our candidates of choice (Villaraigosa). Our website is .

As for Olympia Snowe, in some ways she does resemble Lincoln Chafee, who's about to get a primary challenge himself (look for it this week). However, Snowe is far more popular than Chafee both in the GOP and statewide, and so I highly doubt she'd be in any trouble against Duprey and/or the Democratic nominee (be it Allen or Rowe). At worst for Snowe, she gets hurt by Duprey in the primary and gets 55% or so against the Democrat.  

Posted by Stephen Yellin

5/29/2005 11:19:00 PM


Most conservatives think Duprey is a joke. He will have no money if he runs and little support beyond the fringe.  

Posted by George

5/30/2005 12:00:00 AM


If ROWE decides to sue the Federal Government over NCLB, the lawsuit will be an ugly indictment of the Democrat's failure to improve the education of poor children, and their handling of hundreds of dollars of federal money.
...not a good thing to be going on while you are campaigning!


Posted by HOUSE

5/30/2005 10:28:00 AM


Anyone who knows a teacher (or has seen recent polls on NCLB) knows that's not true. It's a great issue to campaign on. 

Posted by Al

5/30/2005 12:40:00 PM


Anyone who knows an educational researcher knows all too well the magnitude of the failure.

Only 12% of Eleventh grade TITLE ONE (NCLB) eligible students passed(were proficient) in the Math MEAS in 2004; and only 13% of them were proficient in the Science MEAS last year.

As David Silvernail once pointed out, the MEA's are a mirror reflection of the socioeconomic status of the test takers; thus the skew away from poor children.

This is one failure of the Democratic regime that is easily documented and one can go back a decade to show how pitiful the response of the state is.

Yet another issue that will haunt the Democrats is the 'real' dropout rate--if you want to see how the statistics are skewed, check out the series by the Indianpolis newspaper on the 'real' dropout rate. The methodology is applicable to Maine, and easily replicated by taking the size of the 9th grade class four years before graduation and comparing it with the number of diplomas awarded. For some districts only half of the ninth graders got where did the rest go & why?


Posted by HOUSE

5/31/2005 07:01:00 PM


Matt McDonald,
"I know that many people in leadership positions feel like Olympia has lost track of her GOP principles and that she has walked away from the party that she places beside her name. "

Could you elaborate on this some, making specific reference to the Maine GOP's statements of principle (found here )? Of the 14 statements of principle, I see only two from which Sen. Snowe would dissent. There are many things that the current GOP leadersihp has endorsed - judicial activism and the expansion of federal power to name but two - whihh I disagree with, but you'll not that I'm not out campaigning to unseat the Speaker of the House.

I think it's perfectly plausible that you could mount a succesfull primary challenge to Sen. Snowe, in much the same way as it's plausible that I could cut off my nose - I just wouldn't think it worth it for no higher goal than to spite my face, and I don't see why you would want to hand the Democrats a free US Senate seat - which would be the proximate result of displacing Sen. Snowe for a more socially conservative candidate - for no higher goal than the desire of certain sections of the GOP to engage in a fratricical purge of the moderate wing of the party. 

Posted by Simon

5/31/2005 11:12:00 PM


If conservatives are angry at Snowe, why not run Mike Heath against her in the primary? He's about as conservative as they get, and he's fairly well known in the state.

Of course, I'm only saying this because I agree that replacing Snowe as the Republican nominee would give the Dems an open seat. 

Posted by John

6/02/2005 07:06:00 PM


DEM's don't have a credible challenger to Snowe; one who is independent of the mess in Disgusta and has both statewide recognition and backing. Snowe vs. Edmonds?

Collins is a 'virtual' Democrat; it's long overdue for her to come out of both closets and exchange her red dress for a blue one.


Posted by HOUSE

6/05/2005 12:19:00 PM



<< Return to Home Page