Last week, we wondered whether Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) could pull off a race as an independent, assuming he loses a Republican primary (Hint: The law says he can't). But what about Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)?
To be clear, like Lugar, Snowe is committing herself fully toward winning the Republican primary. "She's been a lifelong Republican and she is running as a Republican," Snowe chief of staff John Richter told Hotline On Call. That's a good thing for her career -- the law isn't terribly friendly to independent contenders in Maine.
If Snowe wishes to run as an independent, she must file a withdrawal from the Republican Party by March 1, 2012 -- more than 3 months before the June 10 primary. If she did withdraw, she would need between 4,000 and 6,000 petitions from registered voters by June 1 to get on the ballot as an independent candidate.
Snowe will need 2,000 petitions by March 15 to gain access to the Republican primary ballot.
Maine is known for its independent streak. In recent years, unaffiliated state legislators have made up enough of the House and Senate to throw control to whichever major party they so choose, and two of the last six governors have not been affiliated with one party or another.
That's good for Snowe, a moderate, when it comes to the general election. But first she has to get through a Republican primary. Snowe has made a serious effort to reach out to conservative activists and tea party officials, meeting with them [subscriber] in small group settings in order to build relationships.
She'll need to do so in advance of next year's primary. The Maine Republican faces a situation similar to Lugar's, in all but one important facet: Lugar will face state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in his GOP primary. Snowe, so far, faces only two gadfly contenders.