According to a report in the Kennebec Journal, outgoing Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) may be using her campaign cash to aid candidates of her choice rather than her party.
In a letter written last week but released Tuesday, Snowe told campaign donors that she planned to give leftover cash to candidates in the "sensible center" rather than pledging that money to Republicans, signaling that the eventual GOP nominee may not be moderate enough for her taste. Her campaign currently has $2.36 million cash on hand according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings.
Snowe, who announced her retirement in February, was a noted moderate often at odds with the national Republican base. While she claimed to be confident of a reelection victory, she told the Associated Press last month that she had become frustrated by partisan gridlock in Congress.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pounced on the report as a sign that national Republicans were out of touch with Maine voters.
"Mitch McConnell and national Republicans have disenfranchised moderates in Maine and across the country," said DSCC spokesman Matt Canter. "So it should not be a surprise that Sen. Snowe is questioning whether to give her money to support the extremist, right-wing Republican agenda."
Maine Democrats have yet to find their own clear-cut choice. While many expected Rep. Chellie Pingree to run for Snowe's seat, she declined after former Gov. Angus King entered the race. King, an independent, is highly popular in the state and is considered the favorite to win. It is unclear whether he would caucus with Democrats or Republicans if elected.
Brian Walsh, the communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, used that fact to hit back at the suggestion that the Republican nominee would be at a disadvantage. "Republicans are fortunate to have several strong candidates running for U.S. Senate and whichever one of them is chosen as the nominee will have our full support," he said. "This stands in stark contrast to the disarray on the Democratic side where there is a clear divide between the state and national party."
Walsh also applauded Snowe for her appearance in support of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) last month, where she praised him for his stances on women's issues. Brown has made a concerted effort to court the women's vote on issues like allowing women in combat and extending the Violence Against Women Act, though his efforts have occasionally gone awry.