In a potential blow to Republican efforts to regain a majority in the Senate, Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME, announced Tuesday evening that she will not run for re-election in 2012.
"After 33 years in the Congress this was not an easy decision," Snowe said. "My husband and I are in good health. We have laid an exceptionally strong foundation for the campaign, and I have no doubt I would have won re-election."
She added, "It has been an indescribable honor and immeasurable privilege to serve the people of Maine, first in both houses of Maine's legislature and later in both houses of Congress."
Snowe indicated that her decision to retire was partly due to the excessive partisanship in Washington and the subsequent gridlock.
"What I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be," Snow said. "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," she added.
Democrats are likely to attempt to take advantage of Snowe's decision and pick up what had been considered a relatively safe Republican seat.
Nonetheless, Democrats are still facing an uphill battle, as they have to defend 23 Senate seats, while Republicans only have to defend 10.
Additionally, Maine voters have shown a fiercely independent streak. While the state has voted in favor of the Democratic candidate in each of the past five presidential elections, it has also had two Republican Senators, Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins, for the last 15 years.
Snowe, a moderate Republican, often voted against her own party on key issues but could also be a big thorn in the side of Democrats.
Commenting on her decision, President Barack Obama said, "From her unwavering support for our troops, to her efforts to reform Wall Street, to fighting for Maine's small businesses, 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."
by RTT Staff Writer
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