Skip to main content

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D)
Given her unenthusiastic statements over the last few days, this wasn't unexpected, but it's still not good news:
Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said today she won't run for the U.S. Senate, a decision that could boost the independent Senate bid of former Gov. Angus King.

"This isn't the right time for me to run for the U.S. Senate," Pingree said today in a phone interview.

Pingree said that rather than pursue the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Republican who decided last week not to seek a fourth term, she will run for re-election to the 1st District House seat she first won in 2008.

King's entry into the race on Monday certainly made things complicated—a poll from Public Policy Polling showed King narrowly leading a three-way race between himself, Pingree, and Republican Secretary of State Charlie Summers. And King unquestionably has much greater appeal to Democrats than Republicans, both in his words and deeds (he endorsed John Kerry and Barack Obama, for instance) and in polling (by a 51-25 margin in PPP's survey, respondents want to see him caucus with Democrats versus Republicans).

So it would have been a challenge for Pingree to prevail over King, especially given his exceptional popularity. But it wouldn't have been impossible. However, it would have meant trading a virtually safe seat in the House (which she could conceivably hold on to for the rest for her career) for an uncertain shot at the Senate. Perhaps Pingree expects that King, who is 68, will only serve one term if he wins, thus leaving the seat open once again in 2018. Regardless, she chose the path of least resistance, and now it's an open question as to who will run for Team Blue.

Right now, the leading candidate is former Gov. John Baldacci, but he left office in 2010 quite unpopular and performed much more poorly against Republicans in PPP's two-way head-to-heads than Pingree did. PPP didn't test Baldacci in a three-way with King, but you can bet he'd trail by a wider margin than she did. Other possibilities include the roster of candidates who were running before Snowe announced her retirement, including former SoS Matt Dunlap, state Rep. Jon Hinck, and state Sen. Cynthia Dill.

Another big issue is how national Democrats will react. Just a day ago, DSCC chair Patty Murray wouldn't rule out backing King, even though he is, of course, an independent, not a Democrat. Such a move would have to involve a pledge by King to caucus with Senate Democrats in 2013 should he prevail in November, but King has already said multiple times that he won't be pinned down on which party he'll support in Congress. Even with a weaker Democratic nominee than Pingree, King isn't a lock, especially if Democratic voters grow wary of the possibility of him siding with the GOP after election day. But for now, the race tilts in his favor.

Of course, there's always the nightmare scenario that King and whoever runs for the Dems split the left-leaning vote and hand this seat to the GOP, much like what happened in Maine's 2010 gubernatorial race. Let's just hope nothing like that comes to pass.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Mar 07, 2012 at 09:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site