Carol Weston, the new state director for Americans for Prosperity-Maine and a former state representative and senator, is not ruling out a primary challenge to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), though she told Hotline on Call that she's not thinking about a bid just yet.
"I've worked with Senator Snowe in many different ways and I served in the House and the Senate here in Maine and certainly now in my job with Americans for Prosperity I do reign in and lobby her, and over the years I have found there are times when we certainly do disagree," said Weston. "But I also want to make sure that whoever may run against her in a primary will also have the financial support and the backing of the Maine people to win the general election. And that's something that needs some careful consideration by anyone considering running."
And Weston says she's not in that consideration phase yet.
"I'm certainly not saying absolutely not, but I certainly am being honest when I say it is not on my radar screen right now," she said.
A state GOP source who had heard Weston's name mentioned a number of times as a potential primary challenger thought that "she would be a very formidable candidate." He cited her strong conservative credentials, her association with Americans for Prosperity, and her likability; and thought that her gender would also be an asset in a contest against Snowe.
It's clear that Snowe, up for re-election in 2012, is a Tea Party target. Among Senate Republicans, she has one of the most moderate voting records, and the Tea Party Express has already announced
they will go after her. What's been less clear is when a credible conservative challenger will emerge. The only two challengers to jump in the race so far, businessman Scott D'Amboise
(R) and Maine Tea Party Patriots head Andrew Dodge
(R), haven't gained much traction yet and seem unlikely to do so.
Other potential Republican candidates being discussed include state Rep. Paul Davis
, state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin
, oil company president Jinger Duryea
, and Maine Heritage Policy Center head Tarren Bragdon
, who also led Gov. Paul LePage's
(R) transition team.
Poliquin would seem to be an unlikely choice, as he serves in LePage's administration, and would be putting LePage in a tough spot regarding an endorsement if he runs, as LePage has promised to back Snowe.