AUGUSTA, Maine – Gov. elect Paul LePage’s endorsement last week of moderate U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe in her 2012 reelection bid is causing some consternation among members of Maine’s conservative tea party movement.
Tea party movement members have said they plan to find a candidate to challenge Snowe next year in her bid for a fourth term. And while polls show both Snowe and Sen. Susan Collins remain popular in the overall electorate in Maine, some conservatives hope they can unseat Snowe during the GOP primary.
Snowe campaigned for LePage leading up to the November election, and LePage credits the senior senator’s first husband, the late Peter Snowe, with helping him gain acceptance into Husson College.
So it was perhaps no surprise when LePage told a reporter from the National Review on Wednesday that he would support Snowe in 2012 regardless of who runs against her, adding that his loyalty to the senator would “never turn.”
LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt last week issued the following statement in response to reaction from the National Review article, which was published while LePage was at a meeting for new governors in Washington, DC.
“Governor-Elect LePage did not go to Washington to talk about politics. He was asked a direct question about the 2012 elections and he made it clear that Senator Olympia Snowe will have his support when the time comes. We understand the fascination with politics, but the Governor-Elect is focused now on working with the new Legislature and the Congressional Delegation to create jobs for the people of Maine.”