Maine’s Federal Races Take Shape
At least two Democrats are exploring bids against Olympia Snowe in 2012, as Maine’s senior senator posts fundraising totals far ahead of her intra-party rivals, and chatter about which Republican will challenge Chellie Pingree in Maine’s First Congressional District has begun.
Jon Hinck, a Portland legislator and environmental attorney, and former Secretary of State and current Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Executive Director Matt Dunlap have now publicly expressed their interest in making the race against Snowe.
This may signal a very different field from the last time Snowe sought re-election, in 2006. Then, no Democrat with any elected experience chose to challenge her and the nomination went to activist Jean Hay Bright, who garnered only 20 percent of the vote.
Both of these potential challengers have higher profiles than Hay Bright. Dunlap, especially, with his central Maine roots and bona fides on sportsman’s issues, could diminish some of Snowe’s cross-party popularity and present a more significant challenge than she has seen in the past.
Which is more than I can say for Snowe’s Republican primary challengers. Fundraising reports released this week show Snowe having raised more than a million dollars this quarter, with a campaign war chest of over $2.7 million. Scott D’Amboise, one of Snowe’s two Tea Party challengers, raised only a bit over $100,000. The other, Andrew Ian Dodge, has not yet reported his total.
As I discussed in May, for Snowe to lose, the Right would have to coalesce around a single challenger and that person would have to show obvious sources of campaign cash and public support. That hasn’t happened, and Snowe seems less vulnerable to a primary challenge every day.
No challenger to Representative Pingree has yet begun a public exploration of a run, but Matt Gagnon, who is back to writing at Pine Tree Politics after leaving his job with Senator Susan Collins’ Washington staff, has a list of five potential “Davids” to go up against the “Goliath” of Pingree, the popular and well-funded Congresswoman representing Maine’s First District. It’s not yet clear how seriously any of them are considering entering the race.