Snowe listed as Senate’s best

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Time magazine names 10 senators who get the job done and five who fall flat.

LEWISTON – Time magazine has named Maine’s Olympia Snowe one of the country’s 10 best U.S. senators.

Snowe joins a list that includes well-known national figures and behind-the-scene deal-makers who are often heavily involved in development of major policies.

Time calls Snowe “The Caretaker: Because of her centrist views and eagerness to get beyond partisan point scoring, Maine Republican Olympia Snowe is in the center of every policy debate in Washington. Last year she was one of 14 senators who reached a compromise on President Bush’s judicial nominees that prevented a Senate meltdown between the two parties. More recently, she helped craft an agreement to increase congressional oversight of the administration’s no-warrant surveillance program, helping ease tensions between the Senate and the White House.”

While Snowe’s centrist attitude makes her a Washington player, she also scores points from Time for her work on behalf of her constituents.

“First elected in 1994, she goes back to Maine nearly every weekend, often stopping in a small town for what she calls a “Main Street tour” – walking the streets and visiting shops to ask people what they’re thinking about,” Time wrote. “When Snowe returns to Capitol Hill, she looks to fix the problems Maine residents have told her about: she successfully fought to keep open two Maine military bases recommended for closure last year, and last month she got passed a bill that will provide millions to pay the heating bills of low-income people, a huge worry in frigid Maine.”

Besides Snowe, Time’s top 10 list includes: Thad Cochran, R-Miss., “The Quiet Persuader”; Kent Conrad, D-N.D., “The Statistician”; Dick Durbin, D-Ill., “The Debater”; Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., “The Dogged Achiever”; Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., “The Operator”; Carl Levin, D-Mich., “The Bird-Dogger”; Richard Lugar, R-Ind., “The Wise Man”; John McCain, R-Ariz., “The Mainstreamer”; and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., “The Contrarian.”

The magazine also singled out five first-term senators as up-and-comers and slapped five other senators as the worst in the 100-member chamber.

The up-and-comers are Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.; Barack Obama, D-Ill.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; and John Sununu, R-N.H.

The five worst: Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii; Wayne Allard, R-Colo.; Jim Bunning, R-Ky.; Conrad Burns, R-Mont.; Mark Dayton, D-Minn.

To compile its rankings, Time spoke to academics, political scientists and current and former U.S. senators, according to an introduction written by Massimo Calabresi and Perry Bacon Jr.

Snowe, 59, kicked off her campaign for re-election April 13 with a four-stop, whirlwind tour that included events in Portland, Auburn, Bangor and Presque Isle.

The April 17 edition of Time, which includes the Senate rankings, became available on newsstands Monday. The story is available online at www.time.com.

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