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Olympia Snowe
  • Olympia Snowe Poached by Tea Party Extremists

    For big-game adventurers looking to spot the elusive RINO in its native habitat, there's no better place to explore than New England.

    The last natural reserve of the fabled political beast — known for its ideological camouflage and the ability to weather changes in the political climate — New England once hosted dozens of these mega-fauna, also known by their scientific nomenclature Republicanis Rockefelleria. There were Christopher Shays, Lowell Weicker and William Weld. And the female of the species were always represented by the Maine wonder twins, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe

    U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe stunned Maine's political establishment on Tuesday by announcing she would not seek re-election in a decision likely to have ramifications on both congressional races here and on the battle for control of the U.S. Senate.

    "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, which is what a fourth term would entail."

    Snowe added that she believed the country needed solutions to unite people and that "I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate."

    Among the unique characteristics of the species is its difficult to understand dialect. Translated, Snowe's remarks read: "I am tired of being persecuted by the same elements of the Republican Party that I help enable by caucusing with the Senate GOP leadership. I'd rather spend more time with my own over-wrought sense of political martyrdom in the comfort of an Americans Elect rally or a Times editorial board meeting than spend another minute in the Senate."

    Electorally, Snowe's departure is good news for the Democrats, who have increased their likelihood of holding on to nominal control of the Senate. But there's good news for conservative Republicans too: After weeks of waging what liberals characterize as a "war on women," they've finally succeeded.

    With Snowe's departure, Republican lawmakers hardly have any women left.

    Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

    Tags: Maine, Olympia Snowe, Republicans, Senate
  • Olympia Snowe's Reign of Moderate Terror May Continue

    Now that the Tea Party has its boot firmly on the GOP's neck, whither Olympia Snowe (R[INO]-Me.)? For a while it looked like her decades of service in the Senate might be destined for an end in 2012, as Maine voters elected their first Tea Party governor and generally showed signs of disinterest in moderate-ish Republicanism and/or career politicians.

    But a new poll shows that Snowe's reelection prospects are sunnier than we thought…

    In October of 2009 only 31% of Maine GOP voters stood with Snowe, while 59% wanted to replace her with someone more conservative. [...] But over the last seven months there's been a major transformation, and now 46% of primary voters in the state stand with Snowe compared to only 47% who want to replace her from the right.

    Well, well. How'd she get there from here?

    [S]he's done a better job over the last half year of wooing the far right voters who classify themselves as being 'very conservative.' They still don't like her but she's improved 23 points on the margin with them from -47 (21/68) to -24 (29/53).

    Beyond the fact that she's improved her standing with the far right, she's also benefiting from the fact that the Tea Party just isn't that strong in Maine these days. Only 21% of Republican primary voters in the state identify as members of that movement.

    In other words, Olympia Snowe's rightward swing — which has hurt her standing among moderates who've supported her for years — has won her points with the voting bloc du jour, which, it turns out, may not matter much at all! Good job!

    Well, if nothing else, the far right has helped Senator Snowe keep her driveway clear in the winter. At least there's that.

    Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: Maine, Olympia Snowe, Polls, Republicans, Senate, Tea Party
  • DADT Repeal and Dream Act Actually Heading to the Actual Senate Floor in Actuality

    Harry Reid may not be getting that bill to legalize online poker — not to mention that dump truck full of pork he was hoping for — but it does seem as though — despite my disgusted pessimism yesterday — he has an actual real life shot a passing some genuine historic legislation before the two chambers of Congress descend utterly into trench warfare next month.

    And these pieces of legislation would actually be "historic" in a good way, believe it or not

    After abandoning on Thursday night a $1.3 trillion omnibus Senate spending bill, Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid filed cloture for the DREAM Act and a stand-alone repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" — both of which are now expected to reach the Senate for final votes as early as this weekend…

    Republican Sens. Brown (who on Thursday confirmed his willingness to vote for the bill), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) have said they would support the bill, and all but one Democrat – West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin – is believed to be in favor of voting for repeal.

    The prospects of the DREAM Act, however, are less clear. The measure, which would provide undocumented young people with pathways to American citizenship, has inspired criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, and a Senate vote on the legislation was recently delayed due to lack of sufficient support for passage.

    It's sad enough that these are even issues being vigorously debated in the year 2010 in which we are currently living. What's sadder, though, is that I'd actually feel like it'd be a victory to get one of these bills through.

    Fantastic job of managing expectations, Congress! That is one thing you do very well!

    Tags: DADT, Gambling, Harry Reid, Immigration, Joe Manchin, LGBT, Lisa Murkowski, Military, Money, Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, Senate, Susan Collins
  • Unemployment Extension Fails in Senate Yet Again

    It seems that when Robert Byrd left Capitol Hill for a better place*, he took with him his party's hopes of passing wasteful legislation that would have helped unemployed Americans feed their families

    The Senate rejected Wednesday — for the fourth time — a bill that would have reauthorized extended benefits for the long-term unemployed, by a vote of 58 to 38. Democrats will not make another effort to break the Republican filibuster before adjourning for the July 4 recess…

    Only two Republicans, Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, crossed the aisle to support the measure. That gave Democrats 59 of the 60 votes they needed to break the GOP filibuster, but without the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson's nay vote was enough to kill the bill.

    38 senators voted against this? Don't you just hate senators who vote against unpopular bills, solely to get votes in November? If you can you think of a better way to curry favor with voters than striking down legislation that would allow people to eat, I'd like to hear it.


    * Even if you reject the idea of Heaven and believe that Sen. Byrd's "better place" is nothing more than a cold, dark, worm-infested hole in the ground, this is still meets the criteria.

    Tags: 4th of July, Ben Nelson, Olympia Snowe, Robert Byrd, Senate, Susan Collins, Unemployment
  • U.S. Senate Votes 60 to 40 in Favor of Doing Something

    Breaking from its 16-month strategy of (with incredibly few exceptions) not doing stuff, fighting about shit and accomplishing fuck-all, the United States Senate today voted to get something done

    The Senate voted Thursday afternoon to end its three-week debate on a bill to rewrite the nation's financial regulations, paving the way for a final vote on the landmark legislation.

    The 60-to-40 vote — the minimum required to end debate — succeeded, though two discontented Democrats broke party ranks for the second day in a row. The measure squeaked by with the help of three Republicans: Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, and Scott Brown of Massachusetts, whose concerns Obama administration officials worked to assuage in the lead-up to Thursday's vote.

    "It's been hard to get to this point," Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor, adding, "but I think it's been a good debate."

    This all, of course, means that…

    Under Senate rules, debate on the legislation is now limited to 30 additional hours[.]

    And this is a job that people spend their lives fighting for.

    Tags: Financial Reform, Harry Reid, Money, Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, Senate, Susan Collins