ORONO — Steve Abbott, the athletic director at the University of Maine who was a 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate, announced today that he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Olympia Snowe.

Abbott said many people have encouraged him to run, but he cannot leave the job to which he was appointed a year ago for a two-year commitment.

“Over the last three days, I have received many phone calls, emails, and Facebook messages from friends and supporters encouraging me to run for the United States Senate,” Abbott said in a news release.

“My current job commitments at the University of Maine are something that I take very seriously and something that I truly enjoy,” Abbott said. “It would be irresponsible of me to leave just as we are launching so many great projects for our athletic department.”

Abbott said he couldn’t “do that to an institution that is so important to our state and that is a place that means so much to me personally.”

“I would love to run for higher office at some point if that opportunity presents itself in the future and would consider an honor to represent our state,” Abbott said. “But first, I want to finish what I have started here at the University of Maine.”

Abbott, a Harvard graduate, also served for many years as Sen. Susan Collins’ chief of staff.

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