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UPDATE: With Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe set to retire at the end of her current term, Maine voters are likely in the market for a moderate to fill her seat this November. Enter Angus King, the Pine Tree State's former governor who led the state from 1995 to 2003.
The New York Times reports that King announced Monday night that he plans to run for Snowe's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.
While Snowe's departure was seen as a blow to GOP hopes of regaining control of the Senate, King's campaign somewhat decreases the chance that Snowe's seat will fall to a Democrat, although King would appear more likely to caucus with them if he's elected. The NYT explains:
His presence in the race will most likely make it harder for either party – especially the Democrats – to win the seat that Ms. Snowe, a moderate Republican, has held since 1995. He is socially liberal and likely to draw more Democratic than Republican support.
While King was a popular governor during his two terms in office, he's expected to have plenty of competition for the Senate seat. Possible Democratic challengers include Rep. Chellie Pingree and former Gov. John Baldacci. On the GOP side, state AG William Schneider, state treasurer Bruce Poliquin and secretary of state Charles Summers are all believed to be weighing runs.
Friday, March 2: Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe shocked congressional observers this week when she announced that she would retire at the end of her current term.
The Maine lawmaker, known for bipartisan work with Democrats, explains her reasoning in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday.
"Some people were surprised by my conclusion, yet I have spoken on the floor of the Senate for years about the dysfunction and political polarization in the institution," she moderate lawmaker writes. "Simply put, the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned."
Read the full piece here.
On Thursday, Snowe was the only Republican lawmaker to break ranks and vote with Democrats against a GOP-authored measure that would have allowed employers to opt out of provisions in the new health care law that they found objectionable on moral or religious grounds.
Tuesday, Feb. 28: Some surprising news out of Washington: Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe will not seek reelection in 2012.
The Maine lawmaker is widely considered one of the most moderate members of the upper chamber, and was often a key target for Democrats looking to make a bipartisan deal. The 65-year-old stressed that she is in good health and was prepared to run a reelection campaign, but said that she was swayed by the current polarization and partisan gridlock in the Senate.
“Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term," Snowe said in a statement. “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."
The Washington Post reports that Snowe's departure is likely a blow to Republicans' hopes of regaining a majority in the Senate because she was one of the few lawmakers thought to be able to appeal to Maine's traditionally Democratic electorate.