DC Notebook

February 23, 2013

Poliquin tips hand at potential run against Collins in 2014

Canadians speculate Snowe may be US's new ambassador; Pingree subject of Oscar-nominated documentary; Maine and NH delegations move to protect home-based defense spending

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Former Maine state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin may have inadvertently helped fuel speculation last week about whether he will challenge Sen. Susan Collins in the 2014 Republican primary.

After several weeks of relative quiet, Poliquin has jumped back into the public debate over spending and debt through email blasts and newspaper columns, including a new blog with the Portland Press Herald. But it was a bio in his email blasts that caught the eye of some close observers.

The bio described the Georgetown businessman as "the former Maine State Treasurer and a Republican primary candidate for the United States Senate." The bio was soon changed, however, and the subsequent email clarified that he was a "2012 Republican primary candidate" for Senate.

Poliquin, who also ran for governor in 2010, is from the more conservative side of the Maine Republican Party. And there have been many rumblings about whether Poliquin or another conservative will step up to challenge the more moderate Collins in next year's primary.

A recent poll by Public Policy Polling suggested that Collins would easily win in the general election thanks to her popularity among Republicans, Democrats and independents, but could face a tougher primary fight against a more conservative contender.

In an interview, Poliquin politely declined to answer a question about his future political plans.

"I'm looking forward to 2013 and to continuing to raise important fiscal issues facing our state and facing our country," he said.

Ambassador Snowe?

There's been lots of speculation in the Canadian press in recent weeks about who will be the next U.S. ambassador to our northern neighbor. And one of the names that keeps popping up is former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe.

Snowe is often included on the list of rumored candidates, alongside former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Detroit Mayor David Bing and Caroline Kennedy. Kennedy, the well-known daughter of President John F. Kennedy, is clearly the media favorite.

The same list has been cited by news organizations across Canada, so it's possible that it is simply being regurgitated by news outlets after making an appearance somewhere first.

Recently, Snowe spokesman Lucas Caron told me the newly retired senator "hasn't received any calls from the White House." But the answer was in response to whether Snowe had been contacted about -- and had any interest in -- the Cabinet-level position heading the Small Business Administration. Fellow Mainer Karen Mills is now SBA administrator but plans to step down once her successor is found.

Snowe, meanwhile, was named last week as a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center -- a Washington, D.C.-based think tank -- where she will co-chair a Commission on Political Reform. Former Maine Sen. George Mitchell, a Democrat, is a co-founder of the center. Snowe is also completing work on a memoir.

Maine ties to Oscar nominee

One of the contenders in Sunday night's Academy Award ceremonies is a hard-hitting documentary that features Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree.

"The Invisible War" by filmmaker Kirby Dick investigates the military's poor record of investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults and rapes. The film includes testimony from numerous sexual assault survivors as well as interviews with several lawmakers involved in the issue, including Pingree.

Some of the scenes of survivors sharing their stories were also filmed in Pingree's Washington office.

The documentary has focused attention in the Pentagon and in Congress on the issue of sexual assaults in the military. Pingree is co-sponsor of a bill -- named for Maine native Ruth Moore -- that would help "military sexual trauma" survivors such as Moore qualify for disability benefits.

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