Maine’s Snowe next ‘tea party’ target?

November 9, 2010

By Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times

Republicans last week painted the country’s northeastern corner red last week, grabbing control of the state House, Senate and governor’s mansion in Maine for the first time in more than four decades in a stunning electoral sweep.

But the GOP wins might be worrisome news for the state’s GOP senior senator, opening up the possibility of a 2012 primary challenge to moderate three-term Sen. Olympia J. Snowe now that state voters have shown that a fiscal conservative can win in a statewide contest.

“There is going to be a primary, and she is going to have at least one ‘tea party’ candidate against her. If it is done correctly, she can be beaten,” said Andrew Ian Dodge, the coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. “She is definitely the next target.”

The midterm election results in Maine mirrored the outcome in at least 19 other states, where the GOP generally rode a more conservative message to majorities in state legislatures and in successful gubernatorial bids. Although Maine’s two Democratic U.S. House members were also re-elected, the last time the Maine Republicans enjoyed such dominance at the state level was during the Johnson administration.

The Maine wave propelled Paul LePage, the conservative Republican mayor of Waterville, into the governor’s mansion, and ousted Democratic majorities in both houses of the state Legislature.

While it is unclear who might oppose Mrs. Snowe, at least a couple tea party members are weighing a bid, Mr. Dodge said.

While Mrs. Snowe has gained respect and clout in Washington as a centrist willing to work across party lines, she also has attracted her fair share of detractors along the way. She was one of the few Republicans to vote for President Obama’s $814 billion economic stimulus package, a measure widely loathed in tea party circles.

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