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.
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