Snowe leaving the GOP?

Our friend and colleague David Bernstein posted yesterday on his "Talking Politics" blog a suggestion that Senator Olympia Snowe might be about to leave the Republican Party, building off an earlier post in which he pleaded with her to do just that.

Snowe did vote for the stimulus bill, which makes her one of only three Republicans to be satisfied with only gutting $40 billion from programs that would have helped Maine meet its most crucial needs - like school-construction funding and LIHEAP money - but I'm not sure she's leaving the party just yet.

David suggests that "if she switches to Ind. or Dem., either way she's free and clear for re-election if she wants it in four years." I disagree. If she switches to Dem, she's lost - Mainers don't like welshers even more than they dislike moderate Republicans. And if there's anyone Mainers hate now, it's Democrats - they're the party that can't get anything done in Augusta, and have failed to make progress for going on a solid decade now.

If Snowe switched to being an Independent, she might have some support - the Republican Party is veering to the right at a more precipitous pace than it has since the Newt years, and she could make the case that leaving would give her more power. But given that her argument for years has been that she's more powerful and influential if she's in the caucus room being a voice for moderation, I'd think she'd face some serious criticism for excusing herself from the room.

And if she left the party, she also might have some 'splainin' to do at home - her husband, former Maine gov, state rep, and US rep Jock McKernan, is not exactly a friend to Dems. Whether he is to Independents remains to be seen, but either way, the duo are a Maine Republican powerhouse, and if she leaves the party, that crumbles.

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