Politics

D’Amboise: Snowe retirement leaves me the last man standing

Maine GOP hopeful Scott D’Amboise

The small businessman challenging Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) in the state’s GOP primary declared himself the last man standing upon the senator’s Feb. 28 annoucement of her retirement from Congress.

“I respect Senator Snowe’s decision, and look forward to facing the Democratic nominee in the fall,” said Scott D’Amboise, an ophthalmic technician, who owns his own eye glass business.

D’Amboise said with the withdrawal of Snowe and the Feb. 24 announcement by another candidate, Andrew Ian Dodge, that he was leaving the Republican Party, his candidacy is the only viable option for Republicans.

“With Maine’s complicated signature process, it is doubtful that any other Republican could collect the requisite number of signatures to appear on the ballot before the March 15 deadline no matter how much money they spent,” he said.

Maine requires candidates collect nearly 3,000 signatures from registered Republican voters to gain access to the ballot, he said.

“No other Republican candidate has been collecting signatures to run for U.S. Senate as a Republican, leaving us as the presumptive nominee,” said the Lisbon Falls resident and selectman, who is a longtime volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America and Little League Baseball.

Each signature must be certified by the town clerk from the voter’s resident town prior to filing the signature with the Secretary of State, further complicating the process to be listed on the ballot, he said.

The GOP hopeful said the process of raising more than $500,000 from more than 14,000 donors has given him both name recognition and an organization he needs to win.

Snowe said she was confident of victory had she decided to run for a fourth Senate term.

“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. Snowe served in the House of Representatives from Maine’s 2nd Congressional District from 1979 to 1995.

“After 33 years in the Congress this was not an easy decision. 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 said.

Instead, the daughter of Greek immigrants said she was upset by the loss of civility in the nation’s capital.

“I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies have become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions,” she said.

“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,” she said.

“Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term,” she said.

Snowe’s sister in the chamber, Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine), said she was stunned by the news.

“I am absolutely devastated to learn that Olympia has decided not to seek re-election to the United States Senate,” she said.

“I know this was an incredibly difficult decision for Olympia, she said. “I will personally miss her knowledge and her support-but, most of all, I will miss her friendship.”

Dodge said he did not expect the Snowe retirement when he decided to continue his campaign as an independent, but he found the timing interesting.

“I am not saying there is a connection between her withdrawal and her facing a third-party candidate, but it is interesting,” he said.

As a soft-right senator, Snowe did not represent Maine values, he said.

Matthew Gagnon, owner and editor of Pine Tree Politics, the largest online political community in Maine, said nobody had a warning.

“Even Snowe’s closest staffers didn’t know until she made the announcement,” said Gagnon, who is the director of Digital Strategy for the Republican Governors Association, and the former director of new media for Collins.

Gagnon said it might be more difficult for D’Amboise than if Snowe stayed in the race.

“D’Amboise is dead now through no fault of his own. Before Snowe resigned, viable conservatives in the state were hesitant to run against her. But now you’re going to see better candidates entering the race,” he said.

There are several possible Republican contenders for the seat including Senate President Kevin L. Raye, former gubernatorial candidate Steve Abbott, Secretary of State Charles E. Summers Jr., Peter Cianchette, the former ambassador to Costa Rica and State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, he said.

With two weeks to go, there is still time for these established names to call on their own organizations to get the signatures they need to be on the ballot, he said.

On the Democratic side, the two House members from Maine, Michael H. Michaud and Rochelle M. “Chellie” Pingree, now have a shot at a promotion that they would have never attempted if Snowe was the opponent, he said. The announced Democratic candidate is environment lawyer Jon Hinck.

“Pingree would have the advantage as her billionaire husband is part-owner of multiple newspapers in southern Maine and would use his own purse to fuel Pingree’s campaign,” he said.

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