In the days since the midterm tsunami, the bulk of party-switching
has centered on GOP efforts to woo moderate Democrats. But
could the most high-profile defection actually come from a Republican?
It's at least a possibility, reports National
, with Democrats making "new overtures to Republican Sen.
Olympia Snowe of Maine to switch teams." This isn't
the first time the idea of Snowe crossing the aisle has come up, but the
possibility she could face a Tea Party-backed primary challenge in 2012
makes "taking another run at her now seem worth it." Would the move make
sense for Snowe and Democrats?
- Toxic Political Climate Snowe's brand of centrism doesn't
mesh with the Tea Party's vision of the GOP, writes National Journal's Jeremy
Jacobs. She represents a tempting target for "conservatives
hungry to take out one of the leading moderates in their party." Snowe has established a reputation as "one of the least reliable Republican votes" in the Senate, and the
state's conservative activists are "emboldened after electing a Tea
Party favorite to the governorship." The one thing working in Snowe's
favor is Maine's lack of Republican talent. "The only candidate to
express interest challenging her so far," notes Jacobs, "is businessman
Scott D'Amboise, a second-tier candidate."
- Switch Not A Guarantee Even if
Snowe did switch parties, cautions The Washington Post's Marc
Thiessen, there is no guarantee Maine Democrats will be happy
giving their nomination to a former Republican, or that she could even win
in the general election. Thiessen cites the example of Pennsylvania
Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, who switched parties in 2009
but lost his primary bid earlier this year to Joe Sestak. "As Arlen Specter
showed, switching parties does not necessarily guarantee winning a
Democratic Senate nomination. Snowe could face a tough primary fight
regardless of whether she runs as a Democrat or a Republican." If she
stay with the GOP, it will be difficult for her to reestablish her
conservative credentials because, after last week's election,
"Republicans don't need her vote anymore."
- No Downside Snowe
might identify as a Republican, but Republicans don't identify with her,
says Salon's Steve
Kornacki. "She's not nearly conservative enough for a restive GOP
electorate that demonstrated over and over this year its willingness to
vote for literally anyone (O'Donnell, Angle, Miller) instead of a
perceived RINO," Kornacki writes. "Already Snowe is running about even
with a potential GOP primary challenger in polling." Kornacki makes the
case that the only thing Snowe would have to change if she switched
parties is the letter in front of her name. "Joining the Democrats
wouldn't force Snowe to change her voting habits too much and it would
liberate her from the increasingly uncompromising demands of the GOP
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