, the director of Americans for Prosperity-Maine and a former state representative and senator, is not ruling out
a primary challenge to Snowe, but she has not yet taken formal steps to launch a campaign.
At the 2010 state Republican convention, a Tea Party platform was passed, giving new momentum to the movement in the independent-minded state. Now-Gov. Paul LePage
(R), who enjoyed significant Tea Party support last year won in a crowded GOP primary and went on to win in the general election. But that was not a bad thing for Snowe -- LePage has said
he is backing her.
Snowe put up impressive first quarter money numbers, raising over $877,000 and is well ahead
of where she was at a comparable point during her 2006 reelection effort.
"Off the top of my head and even with doing a lot of looking myself and talking to potential people, I'm finding quite a resistance to running against her because she is so well-entrenched and has such large amounts of money," said Joe DeCoste
, a Tea Party organizer in the state.
The Tea Party Express earlier this year identified Snowe
as one of its targets and if a competitive race should ensue, the group's considerable financial resources could make a dent in the race, should a candidate who can keep pace with Snowe emerge on the GOP side.
Snowe's moderate reputation is a big strength for her in the general election, but could be a vulnerability in a GOP primary against a strong challenger. But such a challenger does not exist right now, and Snowe continues to track towards the middle. MaineToday Media's Jonathan Riskind notes
that Snowe is navigating a legislative path this year that includes a conservative move against federal regulations on small businesses but has also a refused to back a conservative attempt to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.
"I don't think there's any question that she'll be able to sell herself as a moderate," Brewer said.
On the Democratic side, there are several possible candidates. One is Rosa Scarcelli
, a businesswoman with an ability to self-fund who finished third in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2010. "I am watching the race carefully and I am considering it," Scarcelli told Hotline On Call
. "I don't feel that we need to make a decision now." Scarcelli said that she has not had any direct conversations about the race with the DSCC.
Another Democratic possibility is state Sen. Phil Bartlett
(D). "I'm certainly not ruling it out," he said. Bartlett has served as state Senate majority leader and is in his early thirties. He's term limited in 2012, which could give him added incentive to mount a Senate bid.
Another name that comes up in Democratic circles is businessman Donato Tramuto
. "I am keeping my options open," Tramuto told Hotline On Call
. Tramuto also serves as Select Board Chairman -- a non-partisan elected position -- in the town of Ogunquit.
Snowe could also retire at the end of her current term. But so far, she is fundraising aggressively and has given no outward indications that she is planning to step aside.