By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Olympia Snowe, a motorcycle rally and me

One of the more fun things I got to do during my years at the Boston Phoenix was drive to Augusta one weekend in 1999 to meet Maine’s senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, at a motorcycle rally. I started thinking about that story following Snowe’s announcement that she won’t seek re-election.

My article, by the way, appeared in the debut issue of the Portland Phoenix, which is still going strong more than a dozen years later. When you visit Portland (one of my favorite cities), you should be sure to pick up a copy.

Snowe’s career harks back to a time when there was such a thing as liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. Nonideological partisan politics had its shortcomings, but it did tend to minimize the gridlock and enmity that characterizes the national dialogue today.

Snowe’s announcement will also reduce the ranks of moderate New England Republican senators to just two: Collins and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. And that’s assuming Brown wins re-election this November against his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren.

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  1. Larz Neilson

    (from East Boothbay, Maine) Snowe’s announcement really shakes it up here. Candidates have only two weeks and two days (3/15) to collect 2000 signatures to appear on the primary ballot in June. With only two reps in Congress, both Democrats, it’ll be a scramble. Both houses of the state legislature are in GOP hands this term, so there are some potential candidates there. But legislators generally don’t command state-wide name recognition. There was a Democrat who had previously announced for a run against Snowe. I don’t know the status of his campaign, but he could turn out to be the only one on the primary ballot. I expect to see quite a bit of news breaking on this race.

  2. Brad Deltan

    “when there was such a thing as liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats.”

    That phrasing is somewhat misleading. It implies that today we only have the opposite of each, that is: conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. We have the former, the latter are long since dead and gone. There’s nobody left in elected office who’s truly liberal, just good ol’ Vermont Bernie and he says he’s a “socialist.”

  3. John F.J. Sullivan

    The Senate will miss Snowe as much as I miss Portland, which is a whole helluva lot.

    And the best way to enjoy the Portland Phoenix is to read it at the lunch counter of Marcy’s Diner.

  4. Hylen Smurr

    “. . . it’s not like having someone who added a moderate patina to the Republican Party while voting like Jeff Sessions on most crucial issues was doing any good.”

  5. Tough to see how Brown, who supports the Balanced Budget Amendment, which would roll federal spending back to pre-Reagan levels, the Blunt Amendment, or the Ryan plan on Medicare qualifies as a moderate.

  6. Mike Rice

    Why vote? Vote for what, more gridlock?

  7. To hell with the politics you know what I make of all of that, what do you ride?

    Triumph Sprint 955i here.

    Peace Dan.

  8. Rick Peterson

    there are still a few moderate Republicans left. (I worked in the administration of the late, great Frank Sargent.)
    @Sean: when supporting a balanced budget makes you a radical, that speaks volumes about where we are as a country.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Rick: Frank Sargent a “moderate”? He was the most liberal governor in the history of the state, at least until Patrick. Dukakis beat him from the right in 1974. I’m sure you’ll agree.

  9. C.E. Stead

    DK – do you mean moderate Republican, or moderate period?

    Can you name a moderate New England Democrat? Maybe Lynch?

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