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Maine's Olympia Snowe will not seek re-election to U.S. Senate

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February 29, 2012

By Greg Janetka

Olympia Snowe has served in Congress since 1979. She was first elected to the Senate in 1994.

AUGUSTA, Maine: In a surprise to both parties, Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe announced yesterday that she would not be seeking a fourth term. Snowe pointed to the increasingly partisan divide in Congress, stating she was tired of "'my way or the highway' ideologies."[1]

“I am a fighter at heart, and I am well prepared for the electoral battle. Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. 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,” Snowe said.[2]

Snowe, who has served in Congress for 33 years, has long been seen as an independent voice. While some have criticized her as a "Republican in Name Only," more have praised her willingness to reach across the aisle. President Barack Obama stated, "Senator Snowe's career demonstrates how much can be accomplished when leaders from both parties come together to do the right thing for the American people," while Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Scott Brown both said she will be missed.[3]

Last month the Cook Political Report gave the race a Likely Republican rating, but that now seems in doubt. Her departure leaves an open seat and hurts Republican's chances to take control of the Senate this November. Four Democrats - including a former Secretary of State and a current state Senator are vying for the seat, while only two Republicans - a health care technician and a writer - remain. However, candidates have until March 15 to file to run, so it is possible more contenders could enter the race.

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