BANGOR, MAINE — A week ago, all eyes were on the senior senator from Maine, Republican Olympia J. Snowe, as she pondered the prospect of defying her party in support of a proposal to remake the nation’s health-care system.
But after she voted with Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, the what-will-Olympia-do buzz subsided, and now the junior senator from Maine is the fence-sitting Republican in President Obama’s sights.
Wherever Sen. Susan Collins goes these days, people crowd around, trying to divine which way she is leaning.
“How does it feel to have everybody guessing?” Richard Dudman, 91, asked her after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Husson University.
In the annals of Maine, a quirky, sparsely populated state with outsize political influence, it is only fitting that the senators would be on the receiving end of so much attention. Both women have bucked the GOP before, most notably on Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package, and both understand the on-the-ground realities that make Maine desperately in need of health-care reform yet deeply skeptical about its impact.