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Maine presents real opportunity for progressive Democratic Senate pick up

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GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe's retirement in Maine clears the way for a Democrat to pick up the Senate seat held for so long by the GOP. There are currently several declared candidates, but now speculation centers on whether the heavyweights will get in. At Dirigo Blue, Gerald Weinand outlines the challenges for candidates who want to run, given the March 15th filing deadline.

The Portland Press Herald is reporting that both Democratic House members are thinking about the Senate:

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st Congressional District, thanked Snowe for her service and said she is considering a run for the seat.

Pingree's husband, S. Donald Sussman, is a financier, philanthropist and frequent Democratic donor who recently purchased a 5 percent equity stake in MaineToday Media through Maine Values LLC.

MaineToday Media owns and operates The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other media outlets in Maine.

Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, who represents Maine's 2nd Congressional District, also praised Snowe and said he, too, is considering a run.

A decision by Michaud or Pingree – or both – to run for Senate would create a scramble for one or both House seats.
I know and like both Mike and Chellie. Both have strong track records of fighting for fairness and putting working families first. They are both solid people. But, they differ on support for social issues. So, my preference is Pingree.

From the perspective of the LGBT community, it's a clear choice. Chellie is a strong advocate for marriage equality. She helped us during the "No on 1" campaign back in 2009 while Mike was silent. Earlier this month, she gave a speech on the House floor about marriage equality. She's an outspoken ally. Michaud, not so much. He isn't even a co-sponsor of DOMA repeal. With marriage on the ballot in Maine this year, it's hard to see how this issue wouldn't come up in a primary race if Michaud chooses to get in. And, clearly, he would be at a disadvantage on that topic.

There's more. According to NARAL Pro Choice America, Michaud "is mixed-choice." He supported the Stupak amendment to the health care bill back in 2009. And, he's a Blue Dog.

Fortuitously, Chellie recently hired Jesse Connolly, one of the smartest and savviest politicos in the state, to be her Chief of Staff. She's well positioned to win the primary -- and win in November. And, she'll be a real progressive voice in the Senate.

UPDATE: Portland Press Herald reports that Michaud has taken the first step to run:
Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, has become the first of what is expected to be a flood of candidates rushing to get into the race for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe.

A Michaud representative took out nominating petitions for the Democratic primary at the Maine Secretary of State's office this morning, said Megan Sanborn, a spokeswoman for the office.

Michaud represents the second congressional district in Maine, which encompasses most of the central and northern part of the state. He was first elected in 2002 and is now in his fifth term in Congress.

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