Following are excerpts from statements issued Wednesday by Maine politicians upon the death of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy:
Gov. John E. Baldacci
“Senator Kennedy was an inspirational leader and a good friend of mine and my family. He has been at the center of the most important public policy debates of my generation, and through it all he fought for those without a voice of their own. He believed in fairness and opportunity, and while a ferocious fighter for what he thought was right, Senator Kennedy always managed to reach across the aisle to find common ground.
“I am deeply saddened by Senator Kennedy’s death. He was a lion of a man and will be missed by a nation grateful for his lifetime of service.”
U.S. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe
“Today, our nation, New England, and the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts have lost an indisputable ‘lion of the institution of the United State Senate’ — a venerable, legislative giant and political icon the likes of whom we will never likely witness again in our lifetime, Senator Ted Kennedy. …
“No one has ever reached across party lines with as much efficacy, facility and affability as Ted Kennedy. Where there was a divide, he saw an opportunity to repair the breach. Where there were opposing forces, he resolved to find a point of alliance. Above all, he could disagree without being disagreeable. He was a legislator’s legislator — the best of our generation.
“Senator Kennedy also possessed a lifelong joy and exuberance which were contagious. We both shared a mutual love for the Maine coast, which he sailed every summer, and for the Boston Red Sox. To paraphrase the immortal words of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, whom he often cited, he was a part of all that he had met. He will forever be an integral part of the fabric of this great land which he served with such ardor, zeal and love. He will be sorely missed.”
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins
“With the passing of Senator Kennedy, our country has lost a giant of the Senate, and those of us who served with him have lost a warm, big-hearted, generous friend.
“Ted served the people of his state and our nation through five decades. His remarkable record of legislation has touched virtually every American.
“I worked most closely with Ted on education issues, joining with him to expand Pell grants, which help low-income families afford college. We also worked together for years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where we advocated for a strong Navy.
“But my warmest memories of Ted are personal. He loved the coast of Maine and once told me there was no better sailing than Penobscot Bay.
“We shared pride in our Irish heritage. Ted once inscribed a book written by his mother for my mother. It was those countless kind gestures that I will remember most about Ted. I will miss Ted so much.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud
“Ted Kennedy inspired me and countless others with his commitment to a life of public service. His passion for what he fought for was always evident and it was something that I admired. He gave a voice to many who didn’t have one in Washington, and his dedication to the causes he championed was never in question.
“Together with his pragmatism and commitment, reaching across the political aisle over the years made him an extremely effective and influential figure in American politics.
“From health care to education to workers’ rights, Ted Kennedy has always been at the forefront of the major legislative battles of our time. His work and leadership have brought about change that will be felt for generations to come.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree
“I am deeply saddened by the death of Senator Kennedy. He was an inspiration to all of us and his contributions to this country will be felt for generations to come. Because of Senator Kennedy’s work, millions of children and seniors have access to health care, millions of young people have been able to afford college and millions of working Americans earn more because of increases in the minimum wage.”