Manu Raju has an interesting piece in Politico about the unpleasantness between Senator Olympia Snowe and Charlie Summers. He writes,
“When Maine Republican Charlie Summers took a swing through Washington last week to meet with party officials, there was one notable absence: Sen. Olympia Snowe, the most prominent Maine Republican of them all. It wasn’t a huge surprise that Snowe was nowhere to be seen. Snowe has been at odds with Summers since he refused to endorse the 33-year Capitol Hill veteran over a prospective tea party challenger when she was still considering running for reelection.”
Really? Sources who have held a number of positions in Maine politics told National Review that Summers’s refusal to endorse Snowe probably had less to do with bipartisanship than with his own political ambition — Summers has run for Congress three times and has always harbored dreams of national office. When Snowe asked for his endorsement against D’Amboise, the tea partier had the potential to be a competitive candidate. Plus, as Raju reports, the two go way back; he used to work for her, and they have known each other for more than 20 years. So it’s safe to assume that Summers’s snub was probably due to his own concerns about riling the increasingly influential Maine Tea Party, which could jeopardize his future bids for office.
That seems to have backfired. Summers’s opponent, Angus King, has a strong lead, with more than $500,000 on hand (compared to the Republican’s $119,000) and a 28-point lead in the polls, according to the Portland Press Herald. Sources agreed that the best strategy Summers could take would be to go negative. When he became governor, the state had a $3 million surplus. But he left it with a $1 billion shortfall. That could be a compelling campaign message for voters, and it wouldn’t be too difficult to communicate if Summers had the money, given Maine’s relatively cheap media market.