Snowe gives Raye boost in Maine's 2nd CD
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe is giving a boost to Republican Kevin Raye in his 2nd Congressional District race, campaigning alongside him and endorsing him in a television ad. But so far, the retiring senator is not making a similar effort on behalf of another former aide, Charlie Summers, in his race for Snowe’s soon-to-be-empty seat.
A new TV advertisement hitting the airwaves on Wednesday across the state featured Snowe and Raye together, with Snowe describing how Raye worked at her side for 17 years, owns a small business and worked for bipartisan solutions as president of the Maine Senate.
‘‘I trust Kevin Raye. He’s exactly what we need in Washington,’’ she says in the ad.
Raye, who is Snowe’s former chief of staff, concludes by responding: ‘‘Olympia’s support means the world to me, and I would appreciate your vote.’’
Raye could use a boost, as polls show him lagging behind Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, a former paper mill worker and state lawmaker who now has eight years under his belt as a U.S. congressman.
But so could Summers, Snowe’s former state director and now Maine secretary of state. Summers is trailing independent Angus King in a race that will help determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Snowe is one of the last Republican moderates in that chamber.
In political circles, it is no secret Snowe viewed Summers as disloyal when he failed to endorse her in her primary race last year against a tea party-backed candidate before she decided to retire instead. At the time, he was awaiting confirmation as state chief elections officer and said he was reluctant to endorse anyone.
Since winning his party’s nomination, Summers has made due with a tepid endorsement from Snowe but without her campaign money, her donor lists or help from her campaign staff. She’s yet to appear alongside him.
Earlier this month, Snowe was listed as co-host of a fundraiser for Summers in Washington, D.C., but she didn’t make an appearance because she had a previously scheduled event honoring her late mother-in-law in Augusta.
Snowe spokesman Chris Averill said Snowe was too busy Wednesday to respond to questions from The Associated Press for this story.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, said Snowe’s campaign appearances and TV ad should help Raye and she could have helped Summers as well if she had chosen to lend a hand.
‘‘That’s the kind of help that you want from a popular politician of your party. That kind of stuff is worth its weight in gold. The fact that she’s given help to Raye and not to Summers speaks volumes,’’ he said.
Lance Dutson, Summers’ campaign manager, has said that Summers would welcome a face-to-face meeting with Snowe to mend fences. ‘‘She (Snowe) would agree that there are big problems in the nation that need to be addressed. That’s what this campaign is focused on,’’ Dutson previously told the AP.
It wasn’t clear if Summers and Snowe had met. Neither Dutson nor Summers’ campaign spokesman returned calls on Wednesday.
Aside from the professional ties, Summers and Snowe have some shared personal experiences. After Summers’ first wife died, Snowe was someone who understood what he was going through. Her first husband also died in an automobile wreck, and she gave Summers flexibility as a single dad while working for her.
As for Raye, his relationship with Snowe goes back many years. He met her when he was 16, and campaigned for her in her first congressional bid. After college, he served on her staff before going to Washington as her chief of staff when she was elected to the Senate.
‘‘Her words of support for Kevin underscores what’s so important, being able to send people with real leadership, real results, to Washington. And someone who can work across the aisle to work to stop the gridlock — someone who has a history of getting things done,’’ said Kathy Summers-Grice, consultant to the Raye campaign.
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