Skip to comments.Will Palin and the tea party take on Snowe in 2012? (Enquiring liberals want to know)
Posted on 09/07/2010 12:00:00 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
I didn't meet Sarah Palin during my year in Alaska.
That's no surprise. She resigned as governor before I arrived in the state and was seldom there during my year teaching at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
But no matter where she was, Palin was a major focus of discussion everywhere I went.
Would she run for president? How rich has she become? Would Bristol marry Levi -- and should she? What's Todd doing these days?
And, as Palin began to involve herself in this years' campaigns, the conversation was about how much her endorsement mattered.
That was certainly true in June when Palin stepped into the Republican Senate campaign in Alaska by endorsing challenger Joe Miller against incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Miller's victory last week provided additional evidence that, at least among tea party Republicans, Palin has become an important political force.
It would be no surprise to see Palin in Maine before the 2012 election, either as a candidate for president or supporting an insurgent campaign against Sen. Olympia Snowe, who will be up for re-election.
Snowe, and Sen. Susan Collins, have long been targets of those on the right who object to their moderate approach to politics.
Murkowski's defeat is evidence that the right has increasing power in Republican politics. Even with Palin's backing, there was substantial doubt that Miller could defeat Murkowski in Alaska, but that was before the Tea Party Express went to work, donating nearly $600,000 to Miller, who campaigned as a "constitutional conservative."
When I left Alaska at the end of July, Murkowski was still the clear favorite. Alaska Public Radio reported that an independent poll showed her ahead 62 percent to 30 percent for Miller. Fewer than half of poll respondents even recognized Miller's name, compared to 98 percent for Murkowski.
Then the tea party dollars started paying for TV commercials portraying Murkowski as a left-leaning senator who was part of the problem in Washington.
The commercials echoed those used against John McCain in Arizona.
They were untrue.
Writing in the Atlantic, Nicole Allan commented that Miller's commercials ruthlessly attacked Murkowski, claiming that she supported the stimulus (she voted against it) and did not want to repeal health care reform (she said she does). Miller also went after Murkowski's mixed record on abortion, targeting anti-abortion-rights voters who were drawn to the polls by a parental notification initiative. Miller's victory makes him the fifth tea party candidate to win a GOP Senate primary, following Sharon Angle in Nevada, Rand Paul in Kentucky, Ken Buck in Colorado, and Mike Lee in Utah. In her eight years in Washington, Murkowski became known as a moderate Republican dedicated to issues important to Alaska. She is certainly more conservative than Senate Democrats but -- much like Snowe and Collins -- she was willing to cross the political aisle to seek compromise.
Every election is different, and the Murkowski/Miller campaign had its own dynamic. At first, Murkowski did not seem to take the Miller challenge seriously. Polls showed her well ahead; she was far better known and had the power of incumbency to generate news. By the time Murkowski began to campaign seriously, Miller -- with Palin and the tea party behind him -- was making inroads.
Like McCain, Murkowski tried to counter the tea party attack by moving right -- she voted against confirming Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court -- but it was too little, too late to appease the tea partiers and certainly did nothing to heal relationships with Palin, who resented Murkowski's criticism of her resignation as governor.
However, Miller may lack enough support outside his tea party base to win the general election. Public Policy Polling, an independent firm, reported that a recent poll shows that 52 percent of voters have an unfavorable opinion of Miller while only 36 percent see him positively.
That should energize Alaska Democrats and independents to support the party's little-known nominee, Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams. Alaska usually votes Republican, but there have been exceptions. Mark Begich defeated long-time Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008; however, Stevens had just been convicted of committing felonies in office.
No one should doubt that the tea party right will support a challenge to Snowe, who is in her third term.
The right repeatedly criticizes both Maine senators as RINOs -- Republican in Name Only -- who are traitors to the party. One recent Internet posting charged that "Snowe sells out party again" for her work on the financial reform law. Another said that "Olympia needs to come home in 2012 and as a tea party Republican, I'll campaign for that."
She won't be an easy target. Snowe was re-elected in 2006 with 73 percent of the vote. That was the largest margin of victory for any incumbent other than Richard Lugar of Indiana, who was unopposed.
It would be surprising to see either Snowe or Collins -- who is not up for election until 2014 -- follow McCain's example by shifting to the right in an effort to disarm Palin, the tea party or anyone else. They both are committed to the kind of moderate Republicanism that has become their trademark in Washington and there is ample evidence that Maine voters of both parties approve of this approach.
It would be equally surprising if either were to take challenges from the right lightly, as Murkowski did, allowing them to reach a level of momentum where they could be difficult to stop.
David B. Offer is the retired executive editor of the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
First, Public Policy Polling, is NOT an independent firm: PPP To Poll For Daily Kos
Second: Maine is NOT Alaska. (DUH). Offer needs to put his worries away.
I would dearly love to see this. Snowe does need to go. She has messed it up for our country too many times.
Wow, the facts don't seem to matter to some people. Palin backed McCain.
I think the Tea Party and the electoral wins will not only shift RINOs further to the right, but also many Democrats. We see it already.
OK, as long as you're fine with Snowe and Collins being replaced by communists (which is exactly what will happen) - go for it.
Many of us here are working very hard to elect Paul Lepage for govenor.
When winter approaches(Nov 3rd),we will begin ‘snowe removal.
The RINOs that need replacing are the ones from red states like Lindsey Graham from South Carolina. I don't have high expectations for Snowe and Collins, but at least they vote for the Republican leadership when organizing the Senate every two years. Instead of worring about replacing RINOs in marginal states like Maine, we should be concerned with replacing long time DemocRAT incumbents in states like the Dakotas and Montana.
Fine... The benefit to clearly drawing the battle lines is that you are no longer being shot at from within your ranks.
Secure your base of operations by purging the enemy from your presence, draw the battle lines, then attack the enemy with the singular goal of eliminating them from existence.
RINO's are the the enemy among us who toss the grenades into our tents at night. They need to be eliminated from our base of operations.
No what you are seeing is a bunch of Democrats desperately lying in an attempt to hold on to their cushy jobs.
This is an old old old Democrat campaign tactic. Back home on the campaign trail sound like Ronald Reagan, in DC vote like John Kerry.
The same Democrats you are hearing "moving to the right" are the same Democrats who voted for the Stimulus, Obama Care, Cap and Tax and all the other corrupt schemes of the Obama-Peloise-Reid political machine.
If Maine wants to elect honest communists as Senators instead of simpering patronizing not-so-bright gullible preschool teachers, so be it
Maine has to put someone up to run against her..
“It would be surprising to see either Snowe or Collins — who is not up for election until 2014 — follow McCain’s example by shifting to the right in an effort to disarm Palin, the tea party or anyone else.”
Snowe is one of McCain’s favorites. During the prez primary, when McCain’s campaign was broke and going nowhere, he gave contributions to Olympia Snowe. She was a big supporter of McCain-Fiengold.
find a conservative republican of greek decent and watch snowe’s money dry up.
You have to find someone to run against her first..