Maine Republicans start weeklong caucuses

AUGUSTA — As Republicans gathered Saturday for presidential caucuses around Maine, Sen. Olympia Snowe found herself in the unusual position of having to campaign for GOP votes as she shored up support and touted her fiscal conservatism in the first primary race of her political career.

Maine Caucuses
Joel Page

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, right, speaks with state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, left, during the Kennebec County Super Caucus in Augusta, Maine Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. Snowe is facing a primary challenger for the first time in her political career. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

Maine Caucuses
Joel Page

Senatorial hopeful Scott D'Amboise, speaks with an unidentified supporter during the Kennebec County Super Caucus in Augusta, Maine on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. D'Amboise is challenging Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, in the state primary - the first time that Snowe has had a primary challenger in 14 elections. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

Maine Caucuses Romney 2012
Joel Page

Tagg Romney speaks on behalf of his father, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, during the Kennebec County Super Caucus in Augusta, Maine on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Joel Page)

Snowe praised Republicans for their success in taking control of the the Blaine House and both chambers of the Legislature and talked about the need for the GOP to rally around a candidate who can beat Democratic President Barack Obama. She then turned her attention briefly to her own race.

“I’ve always been a Republican. I grew up a Republican,” said Snowe, pointing out that she supports GOP candidates up and down the ticket, and even made contributions and helped gather signatures for her opponent, Scott D’Amboise, during his unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2006.

D’Amboise said it’s nothing personal against Snowe, but he told the packed school gymnasium that Maine needs a “conservative Republican senator.”

GOP activists across the state were asked to caucus between Feb. 4 and 11, and more than 30 caucuses were held Saturday in schools, town halls and fire stations from Saco to Presque Isle. Local caucus leaders were asked to keep the votes under wraps until Feb. 11, when results of the nonbinding straw poll will be released.

In Augusta, boisterous Ron Paul supporters greeted party members outside Farrington Elementary School with a Paul-inspired song played to the tune of “New York, New York.” Paul, the only candidate to personally campaign in Maine, enjoyed strong support and hoped to snare at least some delegates.

Mitt Romney’s son Tagg, accompanied by his own son Joe, told party faithful that Obama is “well-liked by a lot of Americans but his policies have been disastrous.” He said his father has the business experience and self-discipline to find solutions to tough problems in Washington.

Four years ago, Romney came in second place behind John McCain, and Paul came in third during Maine’s caucuses. Romney and Paul still have strong organizations in Maine, while there’s been less of a presence for Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

Paul, who was campaigning Saturday in Minnesota, seemed to enjoy support from a broad spectrum of Republicans, including at least a few people who previously supported Obama.

Bob O’Connor and Linda Silvia of China both voted for Obama in 2008, with O’Connor going so far as to change his registration from independent to vote in the state’s Democratic caucuses. On Saturday, both had changed from unenrolled to Republican so that they could cast their tallies for Paul.

“Obama has disappointed everybody. I don’t know what they told him when he closed the doors to the Oval Office after he took the oath, but he ain’t performing,” said Silvia.

Obama was one thing the GOP could agree on. Snowe received a roar of approval when she said, “We have to pull out all the stops to ensure that President Obama is a one-term president.”

Republicans were also caucusing in Nevada on Saturday.

Snowe, for her part, faces the first Republican primary challenge of a career that dates over 14 elections to her time in the Maine Legislature.

Both challengers tout themselves as more conservative than Snowe, one of a dying breed of Northeastern Republicans who’re fiscal conservatives and social moderates. D’Amboise sees himself as a constitutional conservative, while Andrew Ian Dodge has touted his tea party credentials.

The tea party made its voice loud and clear in 2010 when it took over the party platform at the state convention, helped propel now-Gov. Paul LePage past six challengers in the GOP primary, and ignited a fire that helped the GOP take over both chambers of the Maine Legislature.

Snowe said it’s not so much that the GOP has shifted further to the right. Instead, she sees a growing sense of frustration with politics in general by libertarians, Constitutionalists and conservatives.

“We’ve seen this explosion in debt and people aren’t seeing any positive changes in their own lives. They’re worried about the indebtedness of future generations,” she told The Associated Press. “We have to decide how we’re going to achieve the ultimate goal. That’s important to the overall Republican Party. You have to build a consensus,” she added.

She said she was taking her challengers seriously.

Snowe, Dodge and D’Amboise were all making the rounds at caucuses. After finishing up in Augusta, D’Amboise and Snowe headed to Bangor for one of the state’s biggest caucuses. Dodge started his day in Old Orchard Beach before joining caucuses in Knox County, which is described as the heart of the state’s tea party movement.

D’Amboise, who has raised more than $500,000 in his bid to defeat Snowe in the GOP primary in June, said America needs to get back to its roots of lower taxes and a smaller government that will stay out of people’s lives. It’ll take a more conservative candidate to do those things, he said.

“People are tired. They’ve had it. It’s like the bully at the playground. You get bullied long enough, then you get tired and you end up fighting back. That’s what’s happening in America right now,” he said.

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Comments

Mike Lachance's picture

If not for Snowe & Collins,

If not for Snowe & Collins, ObamaCare would never have passed, let alone got to the floor.

Mike Lachance's picture

THE TRUTH ABOUT RINOS

In realty Dan, Snowe voted YES to allow ObamaCare to move out of committee and on to the Senate floor. Snowe was on that committee and could have voted NO. She voted YES. She was the only "Republican" on the committee to do so. It was because of Snowe's YES vote that ObamaCare got to the Senate floor at all. Snowe burnt a bridge she will never get back, no matter how hard she pretends to be conservative during the campaign cycle.

As far as Susan Collins, both she AND Snowe were two of only five Republicans to vote against defunding planned parenthood out of the ObamaCare system. In essence, they voted to retain ObamaCare as is.

FROM THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: (scores legislators on a number of key votes)
2008
"For the first time, two Republicans scored as absolutely liberal in voting."
Snowe, with a score of 20%, and Collins, at 12% — more liberal even than then-Sen. Barack Obama, who scored 17%. Not surprisingly, Collins says she may also back the Baucus bill."

While Collins has had no direct YEA vote on ObamaCare, her voting record is more liberal than Obama's was. No excuse for a RINO like these two.

Mike Lachance's picture

Bottom line, the bill would

Bottom line, the bill would not have gotten out of committe without her vote. She was the deciding vote. She allowed it to go to the floor knowing full well what might happen.

So there you go, you and I both agree that Snowe and Collins have failed Maine. Even if for different reasons. I disagree with your reasons, you disagree with mine, but we both agree they do not deserve to be re-elected. That is the ULTIMATE sign of total and complete failure as a politician.

Will you vote for either one? If not than you illustrate the point Im making exactly.

Mike Lachance's picture

Good Riddance Snowe. Either

Good Riddance Snowe. Either challenger would do better for the party, the platform and the nation.

Mike Lachance's picture

Personally, I'd rather have a

Personally, I'd rather have a DEM in office than a RINO only "pretending" to be conservative. The net result would be the same, and at least we'd all know what to expect from the DEM.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Hey Mike here is an option

Hey Mike here is an option for you....Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or Goofy. If none of the candidates appeal to you then make a statement and vote a Disney Character in. They can't do any worse then a party representative.

Mike Lachance's picture

You see Tina, I don't

You see Tina, I don't neccessarily disagree with you, but the problem is the reasons we dont like Snowe. Snowe (and Collins) are Republicans. They are beholden to their base and their party. If they try to make EVERYBODY happy by adopting a wishy washy flim flam "centrist" position, they will make the Conservatives unhappy and also the Liberal leaning voters wont like them because they are not liberal enough.

Those liberals probably wouldnt vote for them anyway, and the conservative will eventually abandon them.

That is what has happened. I will be surprised if Collins or Snowe win re-election. They are too Conservative for you and too liberal for me. Where does that leave them? Beats me but i think its a bad place to be politically.

I'll vote for anyone other than Snowe or Collins. I'll write in a name if there are no others running against them, But at this point they will have competition in the lead-up.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

lol Mike, I actually like

lol Mike, I actually like Snowe and Collins....having a heart attack yet....I have worked with both on issues that I needed help on and they were very helpful....doesn't mean I will vote for them but I do like them( especially since they don't always vote on party lines)

Mike Lachance's picture

Thats nice that you like

Thats nice that you like them. Its nice to be nice, which is a nice thing. (Isnt that nice?)
But the bottom line is that no matter how nice they are and how nice you are and how nice it is to like nice people, you probably wont vote for them. Nice!

There are alot of nice people that I also think are nice... but I probably wouldnt vote for them either. Like you, I dont vote on how nice and helpful politicians are to my personal causes... especial on National-level political offices.... City Councilor is a whole different story...

As far as a heart attack goes, you apparently are under the impression that I get emotionally involved in these comment threads... I tend to say what I need to and things seem to fall as they will. I say my piece thats for sure, but Ive got bigger fish to get worked up about and the SJ comments forum is simply not one of them.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Mike I meant the heart attack

Mike I meant the heart attack thing jokingly. I had something nice to say about a Republican and thought it might cause a shock wave. It was just my warped sense of humor.

Mike Lachance's picture

;)

;)

DONALD FERLAND's picture

Dan there have been a great

Dan there have been a great number of times when both Snowe and Collins have broken from party lines and voted with the Democrats. We get it...you do not like Republicans but at least get your facts straight before you make a comment that is not factual.

Mike Lachance's picture

The Senate and House were

The Senate and House were filibuster-proof for a number of years with Dem control under Obama.... and guess what... those Dems never passed a budget. Repubs had zero control. The Dems refused to pass anything even when they could have without a single Repub vote. With complete control of the house and senate the Dems wouldnt pass even Obamas own initiatives when they could have, wouldnt pass ANY budgets when they could have and now that the senate is still controlled by the Dems but no longer filibuster-proof it is somehow all the Repubs fault?

The house is now controlled by the Repubs and the HOUSE has passed literally dozens if not hundreds of bills. The DEMS in the senate are the ones not passing those Bills. Look up the Senate Record, The House Record and the number of Bills passed and who is passing them. "Do nothing Repubs"??? Sorry. No.

Mike Lachance's picture

Really? Look it up Dan. The

Really? Look it up Dan. The congressional record is all lies?
ok. sure.

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