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Two top politicians won’t seek Snowe’s seat

Ron Edmonds/associated press/file

Representative Mike Michaud

PORTLAND, Maine - US Representative Mike Michaud and state Senate President Kevin L. Raye will not run for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Olympia Snowe, both choosing to stick to their battle for Maine’s northern congressional seat.

Michaud, a Democrat, announced interest in running for Senate just hours after Snowe announced on Tuesday that she would not seek a fourth term, then he closed the door just as quickly.

 Senator Kevin L. Raye

Pat Wellenbach/associated press/file

Senator Kevin L. Raye

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He issued a brief statement Thursday night saying he wanted to continue representing Maine’s Second Congressional District.

Raye, a Republican who previously served as Snowe’s chief of staff, followed suit yesterday.

Snowe’s surprise decision set off a scramble because just two weeks remain for candidates to collect 2,000 signatures to qualify for the June primary ballot.

US Representative Chellie Pingree and former governor John Baldacci could join a field of four other Democrats who have previously announced they will seek the seat.

Secretary of State Charlie Summers had expressed interest in joining small business owner Scott D’Amboise in the Republican primary.

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If Pingree opts to run for the Senate, that would set off an additional scramble of candidates vying for her seat in the First Congressional District.

Snowe cited partisanship as one reason she will not seek reelection, and Michaud echoed her sentiments.

“I join many Mainers in being frustrated with how Washington operates and believe that both sides of Capitol Hill have fallen into a partisan rut. However, I am proud of being able to work across the aisle to deliver results, and I think, for now, I can best continue those efforts in the House,’’ he said.

Raye said he hoped to continue Snowe’s legacy.

“The unique combination of my years of experience working at her side in Maine and Washington, along with my proven leadership in the Maine Senate, have prepared me to carry on her legacy of constructive problem-solving to help make Washington work again.’’

Snowe elaborated on her decision yesterday in an essay in the Washington Post, pointing out that she has been complaining for years about excessive polarization in the Senate.

“Simply put, the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned,’’ she wrote.

“The Senate of today routinely jettisons regular order, as evidenced by the body’s failure to pass a budget for more than 1,000 days; serially legislates by political brinkmanship, as demonstrated by the debt-ceiling debacle of August that should have been addressed the previous January; and habitually eschews full debate and an open amendment process in favor of competing, up-or-down, take-it-or-leave-it proposals.’’

She said the excessive partisanship that leads to extremes and stalemates instead of cooperation and compromise will change only if Americans demand it.

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