WASHINGTON — State Sen. Cynthia Dill says she is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.

The Cape Elizabeth Democrat said in a phone interview today that she is joining an increasingly crowded Senate Democratic primary field.

“I am going to go for it” said Dill, who first said she was considering a U.S. Senate bid earlier this month on her blog. “My hope is that Maine is willing to vote for a new voice in Washington, a new generation of leadership.”

Dill, 47, is a former state representative who won her District 7 state Senate seat in a May special election.

Former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, 47, of Old Town, and state Rep. Jon Hinck, 58, of Portland, entered the Democratic primary race late last year.

In addition to Dill, a political newcomer from Portland also said today he is entering the Democratic primary.

Ben Pollard, who owns a Portland home building company, said in a phone interview that he is running on a platform stressing economic development, national security and environmental concerns that he hopes will appeal to Democrats and Republicans alike.

“I could serve as bridge between the parties and help the parties work together,” said Pollard, 39, who grew up in Blue Hill and started Pollard Builders seven years ago.

Snowe, who is seeking a fourth term in the Senate, is being challenged in the GOP primary by two tea party movement affiliated Republicans: Scott D’Amboise of Lisbon Falls and Andrew Ian Dodge of Harpswell.

Snowe won reelection in 2006 with 74 percent of the vote.

The National Journal’s Hotline politics site in December ranked Snowe’s seat 19th on a list of 20 potential Senate seats possibly in play in the fall, saying it did not consider Snowe vulnerable.

“The lack of a real, well-funded challenger from the right makes Snowe a safe bet in the primary. Democrats have two credible contenders duking it out for the nomination, and with it the right to lose to the incumbent,” said the Hotline assessment, written before Dill and Pollard entered the primary field.

Dill was a three-term state representative before she won the special election to replace Democrat Larry Bliss, who resigned to take a job in California.

Dill recently formed a group to advocate for the proposal by environmentalist and businesswoman Roxanne Quimby to create a national park in northern Maine.

That proposal is controversial in northern Maine, but Dill said she is “not going to back down in my belief that Maine needs to diversify its economy and welcome new ideas and industries to the North Woods.”

Dill noted that she also is a backer of a major project, funded by federal stimulus and private dollars, to expand broadband access to rural areas in Maine.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected] Twitter: Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC

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