Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe will not seek reelection in 2012, according to two source with knowledge of her plans.
Snowe’s retirement represents a major setback for the GOP’s efforts to regain a majority in the Senate. As a moderate Republican, she may be the party’s only hope to hold a seat in the strongly blue state.
This is major political news -- all "as Maine goes, so goes the nation" jokes aside. Snowe -- along with her state's other senator Susan Collins -- has been one of the last couple of moderate Republicans in Washington. It will be interesting to see what her stated reasons are for deciding, at this late hour, to not seek re-election; whatever the official story line, it won't escape notice that she leaves as her Republican Party is lurching to the extreme right, and as GOP lawmakers increasingly pursue an agenda that is hostile to women. The GOP will be eager to prove in November that the party is not anti-female, but it's going to be harder to make that case now that Snowe is not in the picture.