Senator Olympia Snowe’s announcement that she would retire in 2013 caught everyone by surprise — including the Maine Republican party.
Phil Curtis, the Republican majority leader in the Maine house of representatives, tells NRO that the Maine GOP held a meeting of “eight or ten” state-party officials this afternoon at the headquarters in Augusta. The meeting included the Republican speaker of house “and a few other people,” and it ended “just about an hour ago.”
When asked if he had received any forewarning about Snowe’s announcement, Curtis replies, “Not a word. It came as a surprise to me and to the rest of us. We all heard it at once.”
His reaction? “I’m disappointed obviously. She’s put many years in there and become a powerful advocate for Republican ideas. And it’ll be hard to replace her.”
And the Senate race? Snowe’s announcement “put everybody into a scurry” at the meeting, Curtis says. Her retirement “opens it wide open.”
UPDATE: I wrote about Senator Snowe’s reaction to the contraception mandate recently. You can read the piece here.
UPDATE II: Richard Bennett, Republican national committeeman for Maine, writes in an email to NRO:
My reaction is one of surprise and sadness. Maine and America have benefited from Senator Snowe’s common sense, and her practical and responsible approach to politics and to policymaking. She has given much in her public service for decades and I respect her decision, knowing it was very difficult. But for everything there is a season and, along with thousands of other Mainers, I thank her for her service and wish her the best in the next chapter of her life.