The Republican nominee hoping to succeed U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe is not assured to receive most, or any, of the outgoing senator’s campaign war chest.
Last week, in a letter to donors of her now dismantled campaign, Snowe, a Republican, said the millions she amassed in contributions may be used to support “like-minded” candidates, a center to give “a national voice” to the “sensible center” and an institute to promote Maine women leaders.
The missive, recited by former campaign consultant Sharon Miller, offered a glimpse of Snowe’s ambitions beyond her congressional career. It also appears to promise financial and institutional backing to reestablish what Snowe says is the reason she abandoned her re-election bid: The vanishing sensible center.
According to her latest disclosure with the Federal Elections Commission, Snowe has accumulated $3.5 million in donations. The campaign has $2.36 million in cash and no debt.
Such money could give a needed boost to the eventual Republican nominee, who is expected to face a tough fight against independent Gov. Angus King and the eventual Democratic choice.
Snowe could not be reached for comment. Miller, speaking on Snowe’s behalf, said there were several GOP candidates who have views similar to those of the senator.
Miller would not say if Snowe would consider supporting King.
Three GOP candidates have ties to Snowe. Charlie Summers is a former Snowe staffer, while Rick Bennett was Snowe’s campaign treasurer until she jumped out of the race. William Schneider, meanwhile, received access to Snowe’s email list of supporters when he was gathering signatures to get on the primary ballot.
State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin and Scott D’Amboise are largely backed by the tea party movement and may be unlikely to receive Snowe’s support. Republican state Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, has supported anti-abortion bills in the Legislature that may not align with Snowe’s pro-choice beliefs.
Federal elections law allows Snowe several options for the money after the campaign pays off its debts, including creating a political action committee to support candidates, refunding donors or giving the money to the Maine Republican Party.
According to Bob Biersack, of the Center for Responsive Politics, retiring congressional candidates chose many of the above options. Many, he said, give the money to their state party to assist in legislative and congressional elections.
Miller didn’t rule out the latter option. However, it appears other initiatives outlined in the letter are priorities for Snowe.
“Included in this effort will be my support for other like-minded candidates,” Snowe wrote. “Beyond that I intend to use the funds on leadership initiatives specific to Maine. We’ve made no final decisions, but I’m giving serious thought to creating both a center to encourage consensus building as well as an entity to help raise the aspirations of young Maine women.”
Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster also received the letter. He said he understood that Snowe may not want to give the money to her party.
“There are people that gave to her that would not necessarily give to the Republican Party,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with it.”
Steve Mistler — 620-7016