Michaud, Pingree, Baldacci file papers to run for Senate; LePage won't try to extend filing deadline

Olympia Snowe
Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, speaks to media outside her office on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday about her decision not to run for re-election this fall.

AUGUSTA — Republican U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe's sudden withdrawal from her re-election bid touched off a mad scramble Wednesday by potential candidates angling to take her place.

Angus King
Pat Wellenbach/Associated Press

In this Oct. 2005 file photo, former Gov. Angus King, left, and Maine Gov. John Baldacci hold a news conference in Portland, Maine. With Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe's announcement that she won't seek a fourth term, a number of Maine Republicans and Democrats are considering jumping into the Senate race, setting off a scramble with just two weeks before a deadline for getting on the November ballot. Gov. King ran as an Independent for governor.

Mike Michaud
Submitted photo

Rep. Mike Michaud has taken out nomination papers for Sen. Olympia Snowe's seat. Snowe announced Tuesday that she was no longer seeking re-election.

Chellie Pingree
Pat Wellenbach/Associated Press

Incumbent 1st District U. S. Rep. Chellie Pingree waves to a crowd of supporters in South Portland on Sept. 26. Pingree has taken out nomination papers for Olympia Snowe's Senate seat.

Eliot Cutler
Joel Page/Associated Press

Eliot Cutler, who ran for Maine governor as an independent in 2010, is considering a run for Sen. Olympia Snowe's seat.

Charles Summers
Pat Wellenbach/Associated Press

Maine Secretary of State Charles E. Summers Jr. is considering joining the race to fill Sen. Olympia Snowe's seat. Snowe announced Tuesday that she would retire from the Senate.

Emily Cain
Submitted photo

State House Minority Leader Emily Cain has taken out papers to run for Rep. Mike Michaud's congressional seat. Michaud has taken out papers to run for Sen. Olympia Snowe's Senate seat after Snowe announced she would not seek re-election.

Kevin Raye
Pat Wellenbach/Associated Press

In this January 2012 file photo, Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, conducts business on the first day of the 2012 legislative session at the State House in Augusta. With Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe's announcement that she won't seek a fourth term, a number of Maine Republicans and Democrats are considering jumping into the Senate race, setting off a scramble with just two weeks before a deadline for getting on the November ballot. Four Democrats who already announced they're running could be joined by U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both of whom say they're weighing a bid for the open seat. If Pingree and Michaud both run, that would leave three of Maine's four seats in Congress up for grabs.

Andrew Ian Dodge
Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Andrew Ian Dodge, Tea Pary activist and independent candidate for Sen. Olympia Snowe's seat.

Matt Dunlap
Sun Journal file photo

Former Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap is staying in the running for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Olympia Snowe. Snowe announced Tuesday that she would not seek a fourth term.

Scott D'Amboise
Joel Page/Associated Press

In this Feb. 4, 2012 file photo, senatorial hopeful Republican Scott D'Amboise, speaks with an unidentified supporter during the Kennebec County Super Caucus in Augusta. With Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe's announcement that she won't seek a fourth term, a number of Maine Republicans and Democrats are considering jumping into the Senate race, setting off a scramble with just two weeks before a deadline for getting on the November ballot. Four Democrats who already announced they're running could be joined by U.S. Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both of whom say they're weighing a bid for the open seat. If Pingree and Michaud both run, that would leave three of Maine's four seats in Congress up for grabs.

John Baldacci
Pat Wellenbach/Associated Press

Gov. John Baldacci is seen in this file photo before delivering his State of the State speech in 2009. Baldacci has taken out nomination papers for Maine's U.S. Senate seat.

The frenzy was dominated by Democrats, who in the span of hours saw a virtually unwinnable contest against the incumbent Snowe transform into a free-for-all. The party's biggest names rushed to file petition papers, the first step toward making an official run.  

U.S. Reps. Michael Michaud and Chellie Pingree, both Maine Democrats, as well as former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci will begin collecting signatures in preparation for the March 15 filing deadline to get on the primary ballot.

As of Wednesday evening, no Republican had taken out nomination papers. However, Secretary of State Charlie Summers and Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, said they were considering a run at Snowe's seat. 

The decision will be particularly difficult for Raye, who is already running for the 2nd Congressional District seat, and who is considered to have an excellent chance of unseating Michaud. Michaud's move to the Senate race could increase Raye's chances of winning, but he may also be the strongest candidate to help national Republicans retain Snowe's seat in the Senate. 

Former independent Gov. Angus King also is considering a run, he told the Sun Journal. A spokesman for former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler said he hadn't closed the door.

Michaud and Pingree both said they are "strongly" considering getting in the race.

If they do — and it appears they will — the state's two U.S. House races will see new faces, and new favorites. Ten candidates took out nomination papers Wednesday and rumors swirled of several more. 

Of the 10 officially gathering signatures, seven are targeting the 1st District seat. Only two are Republicans, including state Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney of Springvale. The other is Markham Gartley, a former Democrat who in 1978 lost to Snowe during the race for the 2nd District seat. 

Another Republican, Patrick Calder, has already entered the race. 

The list is longer for Democrats in the 1st District. State Sen. Cynthia Dill of Cape Elizabeth and state Rep. Jon Hinck of Portland, who had planned to run against Snowe, quickly took out papers to run for Pingree's seat. 

Democrat Matt Dunlap said he would continue his bid for Snowe's seat, at least for now. 

"I'm not going to leap from rock to rock because of all this," he said. "I didn't get into this to get a big, fancy job, I got in it to help people."

Snowe's would-be primary challenger Scott D'Amboise also plans to stay in the Senate race. 

Other Democrats in the 1st District race include former Secretary of State David Lemoine, Wellington Lyons and David Costa. 

More names were still in the mix, including Chellie Pingree's daughter, Hannah Pingree, the former Democratic State House Speaker. Adam Cote, who finished second to Chellie Pingree in the 2008 Democratic primary for the 1st District seat, was also rumored to be gathering signatures. 

The 2nd District was less frantic. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Deborah Plowman, R-Hampden, took out papers, as did House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono. Former Democratic state Rep. Bruce Bryant of Dixfield is also considering a run. 

Although the list of potential candidates seeking congressional seats has multiplied, the field could shrink quickly by the March 15 deadline to gather signatures. Republican and Democratic Senate candidates have to turn in 2,000 signatures to qualify for the primary; representatives have to submit 1,000 signatures. 

Independent senatorial candidates have until June 1 to gather 4,000 signatures. Former Republican Andrew Ian Dodge will be among the independents attempting to meet that deadline.

Dunlap, a former secretary of state, said gathering the requisite signatures would not be easy for many candidates. Dunlap also noted the mad dash of those seeking to capitalize on Snowe's departure.

"It's like a glacier suddenly melted and we have a field of rocks to deal with," he said. 

Pingree said running for the Senate wasn't something she'd considered until Snowe decided to bow out. However, she said, Snowe's departure and the outpouring of progressive groups urging her to run underscored the significance of the race.

 "I think people are seeing how important it is push back against this right-wing agenda in Washington," she said, adding that Republicans were advancing disastrous energy policies and taking away women's reproductive rights.

Pingree dismissed the idea that her progressive politics might not resonate with voters in the 2nd Congressional District. 

"Sometimes people talk about the 2nd District as if it's the other side of the Berlin Wall," she said. "... But there are so many issues that are important to all of us. It has nothing to do with north, south, rural, urban. I'm very comfortable trying to gather support from all types of voters." 

In a related matter, contrary to previous reports, Gov. Paul LePage will not seek to extend the deadline for candidates to confirm their candidacies.

Dan Billings, LePage's chief legal counsel, said stories reporting that the governor was considering it did not originate from the Governor's Office.

Extending the deadline would require a statutory change and an emergency, two-thirds vote by the Legislature. 

smistler@sunjournal.com

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Comments

ANTHONY NAZAR's picture

The 1000 lb gorilla

Angus King. King would make a great senator and running as an independent, he would be free of the pressures of having to be in the same room as McConnell or Reid.

An aside - every time someone posts anything that isn't Tea Party approved, there are two or three instant "disagrees" followed within an hour by three or four more. This is the reason Cohen, Mitchell and now Snowe packed it in. It may sound wonderful to some to have a bomb thrower representing Maine, but he or she will get absolutely nothing done.

 's picture

Democrats

It will be a hard race with three Democrats running...They are all awesome people...Good luck to you all...

 's picture

No one

No one on the list thus far is worth voting for, let's wait for this to all shake down and see if a viable candidate files papers.

DONALD FERLAND's picture

I think that for both Michaud

I think that for both Michaud and Pingree to take out papers would totally mess with everything....it would leave both House seats up for grabs as well and I don't know that we want to go there.

Joe Morin's picture

Are you high???

Read the damn article!

Joe Morin's picture

Touche'

Touche' Dan

GARY SAVARD's picture

There is a lot of "not much"

There is a lot of "not much" in that list. Hopefully it will get a bit better.

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