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Olympia Snowe Retiring: Senator Will Not Seek Another Term

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U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) will not run to keep her seat this November, according to local station WGME.

"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," Snowe said in a statement issued on Tuesday. "It has been an indescribable honor and immeasurable privilege to serve the people of Maine, first in both houses of Maine's legislature and later in both houses of Congress."

Snowe continued, "As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first day in the Maine House of Representatives." She added, "I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions."

The moderate Republican's decision not to seek another term gives Democrats an opportunity to capture another post in the upper congressional chamber.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Guy Cecil addressed the news in a statement.

"As we said from day one, unexpected opportunities will emerge and the DSCC will be in a position to seize on these opportunities," he said. "Maine is now a top pick up opportunity for Senate Democrats. If there is one place in the country that is likely to reject the extreme, anti-middle class, divisive Republican agenda it is Maine. Democrats not only hold a strong registration advantage in the state, but this is a state that the President won by 17 points in 2008 and will likely win by a significant margin this year as well."

Snowe was first elected to the Senate in 1994.

Below, full text of the statement issued by Snowe on her decision.

"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.

"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. It has been an indescribable honor and immeasurable privilege to serve the people of Maine, first in both houses of Maine's legislature and later in both houses of Congress. To this day, I remain deeply passionate about public service, and I cherish the opportunity I have been given for nearly four decades to help improve the lives of my fellow Mainers.

"As I have long said, what motivates me is producing results for those who have entrusted me to be their voice and their champion, and I am filled with that same sense of responsibility today as I was on my first day in the Maine House of Representatives. I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.

"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. Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail.

"As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America.

"In the meantime, as I complete my third term, I look forward to continuing to fight for the people of Maine and the future of our nation. And I will be forever and unyieldingly grateful for the trust that the people of Maine have placed in me, and for the phenomenal friendship and assistance I have received over the years from my colleagues, my supporters, and my staff, both in Maine and in Washington." Senator Snowe will be scheduling a news conference in Portland, Maine, in order to further discuss her decision when she returns to her home state on Friday.

UPDATE: President Barack Obama reacted to Snowe's decision Tuesday evening in a statement:

For nearly four decades, Olympia Snowe has served the people of the great state of Maine. Elected to the state House in 1973, Olympia went on to be the first woman in American history to serve in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of Congress. From her unwavering support for our troops, to her efforts to reform Wall Street, to fighting for Maine's small businesses, Senator Snowe’s career demonstrates how much can be accomplished when leaders from both parties come together to do the right thing for the American people. Michelle and I join Mainers in thanking Senator Snowe for her service, and we wish her and her family all the best in the future.

 
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