Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine announced Tuesday she will retire rather than seek re-election this year.
The decision was made “after an extraordinary amount of reflection and consideration,” she said in a statement.
Snowe, who turned 65 last week, was first elected to the U.S. House in 1978 and then to the Senate in 1994. She is the first woman to serve in both chambers of a state legislature and the U.S. Congress.
Snowe was known as a moderate who sometimes sided with Democrats in the increasingly partisan environment of Washington politics.
Her statement cited the partisan divide.
“I have no doubt I would have won re-election,” Snowe said, describing her political service in Maine and Washington as “an indescribable honor and immeasurable privilege.”
While her motivation and sense of responsibility remain, she continued, “I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.”
“Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term,” Snowe said. “So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate.”
Initial reaction from Senate colleagues indicated Snowe’s decision was unexpected.
“I am absolutely devastated to learn that Olympia has decided not to seek re-election,” said a statement by fellow Maine Sen. Susan Collins, also a moderate Republican.
“I know this was an incredibly difficult decision for Olympia,” said Collins, who lauded Snowe as “a leader who sought solutions, not political advantage.”
Here’s Senator Snowe’s statement on her retirement.
A question has been floated around on Twitter as to who Collins will team up with now that her moderate pal Snowe is retiring after this term – the answer is easy: Whoever the Democrat is who eventually will replace her.
I didn’t think we had a chance in you-know-where that we’d pick up the Senate this year, and Snowe’s retirement makes the likelihood of that happening even more remote. And while on one hand it’s good to have around even a moderate Republican like Snowe for most procedural votes, it’s important to remember that even the procedural vote pluses are canceled out when colossal errors in judgement – like her decision to vote ObamaCare out of committee (video hat tip: Dr. Melissa Clouthier), which set it up for eventual passage – become all too common.
As Michelle Malkin says here: “DLTDHYOTWO!” Indeed.