Olympia Snowe Will Not Seek Reelection

What Women Really Think
Feb. 29 2012 10:07 AM

Olympia Snowe Is Fed Up, But She's Not Down for the Count

Senate Finance Committee member Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) talks with reporters before the committee is set to vote on health care reform legislation on Capitol Hill October 13, 2009 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican senator from Maine who has been in Congress for 33 years, announced yesterday that she will not seek re-election. She cited the increasingly divisive state of American politics as a reason for her resignation. "I do find it frustrating ... that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions," Snowe said. This may have been surprising to some, but in retrospect the 2010 battle over health care reform may have been the last straw for the senator. As first, Snowe broke with Republican ranks, voting for the Finance Committee’s health-care-reform bill in October 2009. But then she voted against the longer version of the bill put before the Senate in December 2009. In a piece about just how demented the Senate is, the New Yorker's George Packer quoted a Snowe confidante who said:

"[Olympia] actually said to me once that she had never felt the pressure that she felt on health care, never before had that pressure been quite as evident to her or quite as real or troubling. Kyl and McConnell were saying things like 'You just can’t let us down, we’re all in this together. You’re a senior Republican member of this caucus, and you just have to hang tough with us. We expect it and you’re going to do it.'"


Those who respect Snowe's independent thinking, take heart—though she is not running for re-election, it does not seem like she wants to retire from politics. New York's Jonathan Chait suspects Snowe may join Americans Elect, which he describes as "the third-party group that believes that both parties should put aside partisanship and come together to enact an ever-so-slightly more conservative version of Barack Obama's agenda." Chait wonders if Snowe would join Americans Elect's presidential ticket with David Boren, the former senator from Oklahoma. The staunch democrats who are happy to see a popular Republican step down are now looking at another woman to try to fill Snowe's seat: the Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who has been described as a Northern ally of Elizabeth Warren.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won't Stop Running
Sept. 17 2014 12:13 PM “For a While Liquidity Led to Stupidity”
The Eye
Sept. 17 2014 12:19 PM Early Cancer Hospitals Were Modeled on French Castles, Served Champagne
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Sept. 17 2014 11:06 AM Inside the Exclusive World of Members-Only Clubs
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 11:14 AM How Does That Geometry Problem Make You Feel? Computer tutors that can read students’ emotions.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.