Sen. Olympia Snown, a moderate Republican from Maine, announced Tuesday that she would not seek re-election in 2012 because of the increasing polarization in Washington.
“After an extraordinary amount of reflection and consideration, I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate,” she said in a prepared statement.
“With my Spartan ancestry I am a fighter at heart; and I am well prepared for the electoral battle, so that is not the issue. However, what I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be. 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.”
Recently, Snowe broke rank with her party and came out in favor of a new rule issued by the Obama administration that requires private health insurers to fully pay for the cost of contraception products. In the past, she had been criticized by her Republican colleagues for supporting the Democrats on initiatives like the economic stimulus and financial regulatory reform.
Though fairly popular in her state, polls indicated that Republican voters considered her “too liberal” and she faced two primary challenges from tea party-affiliated candidates. One of those challengers, Andrew Ian Dodge, has recently decided to run as an Independent.
In announcing her resignation, Snowe said “an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies” had infected political campaigns and Congress.
“As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us,” she said. “It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate.”
Four Democrats are vying for Snowe’s seat and will compete in a June primary.
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