Olympia Snowe: United States Senator from Maine (1947-) | Biography, Filmography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Olympia Snowe
United States Senator from Maine

Olympia Snowe

Olympia Snowe
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro United States Senator from Maine
A.K.A. Olympia Jean Bouchles Snowe, Olympia Jean Snowe
Is Politician Businessperson
From United States of America
Field Business Politics
Gender female
Birth 21 February 1947, Augusta, USA
Age 75 years
Star sign Pisces
Politics Republican Party
Spouse: Peter T. SnoweJohn R. McKernan
The details (from wikipedia)


Olympia Jean Snowe (née Bouchles; born February 21, 1947) is an American businesswoman and politician who was a United States Senator from Maine from 1995 to 2013. Snowe, a member of the Republican Party, became widely known for her ability to influence the outcome of close votes, including whether to end filibusters. In 2006, she was named one of America's Best Senators by Time Magazine. Snowe was famously known for her ability to compromise and her strong sense of bipartisanship. Throughout her senate career, she was considered one of the most moderate members of the senate.

On February 28, 2012, Snowe announced that she would not seek re-election in November 2012, and retired when her third term ended on January 3, 2013. She cited hyper-partisanship leading to a dysfunctional Congress as the reason for her retirement from the Senate. Her seat went to former Governor Angus King, a former Democrat and current Independent.

Snowe is a senior fellow for the Bipartisan Policy Center and co-chairs its Commission on Political Reform.

Early life

Official photo of Representative Snowe in 1980

Snowe was born Olympia Jean Bouchles in Augusta, Maine, the daughter of Georgia (née Goranites) and George John Bouchles. Her father emigrated to the United States from Sparti, Greece, and her maternal grandparents were also Greek. She is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Snowe's early life had its share of tragedies. When she was eight years old, her mother died of breast cancer, and less than a year later, her father died of heart disease. Orphaned, she was moved to Auburn, to be raised by her aunt and uncle, a textile mill worker and a barber, respectively, along with their five children. Her brother John was raised separately by other family members. Within a few years, disease would also claim her uncle's life. Snowe attended St. Basil's Academy in Garrison, New York from the third grade to the ninth. One of her teachers was Athena Hatziemmanuel, a notable Greek-American educator at the school. Returning to Auburn, she attended Edward Little High School before entering the University of Maine in Orono, from which she earned a degree in Political Science (1969). Shortly after graduation, Bouchles married her fiancé, Republican state legislator Peter T. Snowe, on December 29, 1969, in New York City.

Early political career

State Senator Snowe

Snowe entered politics and rose quickly, winning a seat on the Board of Voter Registration and working for Congressman (later U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of Defense) William Cohen. Tragedy struck Snowe again in 1973, when her husband was killed in an automobile accident. At the urging of family, friends, neighbors and local leaders, Snowe ran for her husband's Auburn-based seat in the Maine House of Representatives at the age of 26 and won. She was re-elected to the House in 1974, and, in 1976, won election to the Maine Senate, representing Androscoggin County. That same year, she was a delegate to both the state and national Republican conventions. Snowe was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, and represented Maine's 2nd Congressional District from 1979 to 1995. The district takes in most of the northern two-thirds of the state, including Bangor and her hometown of Auburn. She served as a member of the Budget and International Relations Committees.

Snowe married John R. McKernan, Jr., then Governor of Maine, in February 1989. Snowe and John McKernan had served together in the United States House of Representatives from 1983 to 1986, when McKernan represented the 1st District. While Snowe was First Lady of Maine from 1989 to 1995, she served as a U.S. Representative and a United States Senator.

Tragedy struck Snowe yet again in 1991 when her stepson Peter McKernan died from a heart ailment at the age of 20.

U.S. Senate career


Snowe and her husband, former Maine Gov. John McKernan, with President George W. Bush and Laura Bush at a holiday reception at the White House

In 1994, when Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell declined to run for re-election, Snowe immediately declared her candidacy for the seat. The Democratic nominee was her House colleague, 1st District Congressman Tom Andrews. Snowe defeated Andrews 60–36%, carrying every county in the state. Snowe was part of the Republican election sweep of 1994, when the Republican party captured both the House and Senate for the first time since 1954. Snowe was easily re-elected in 2000 over State Senate President Mark Lawrence, increasing her winning margin to 69%–31%. She cruised past Democratic opponent Jean Hay Bright in 2006, winning by 74% to 20.6%.


Snowe was an important voice during the Senate's 1999 impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton. She and fellow Maine Senator Susan Collins sponsored a motion that would have allowed the Senate to vote separately on the charges and the remedy – a "finding of fact" resolution. When the motion failed, Snowe and Collins voted to acquit, arguing that Clinton's perjury did not warrant his removal from office. Her occasional breaks with the Bush administration drew attacks from conservative Republicans; the Club for Growth and Concerned Women for America label her a "Republican In Name Only" (RINO). In February 2006, TheWhiteHouseProject.org named Snowe one of its "8 in '08", a group of eight female politicians who could possibly run and/or be elected president in 2008.

Snowe and the Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, meeting in the boardroom at Supervisor Shipbuilding, Bath Iron Works

In April 2006, Snowe was selected by Time as one of "America's 10 Best Senators". She was the only woman so recognized. Time praised Snowe for her sensitivity to her constituents, also noting that: "Because of her centrist views and eagerness to get beyond partisan point scoring, Maine Republican Olympia Snowe is in the center of every policy debate in Washington." She received an honorary degree from Bates College in 1998, and another from the University of Delaware in 2008. Snowe did not miss any of the 657 votes on the Senate floor during the 110th Congress from 2007 to 2009. She was one of only eight senators who did not miss any votes during that session.

Snowe is the fourth woman to serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the first to chair its seapower subcommittee which oversees the Navy and Marine Corps. In 2001, Snowe became the first Republican woman to secure a full-term seat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Snowe was the youngest Republican woman ever elected to the United States House of Representatives; she is also the first woman to have served in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of the U.S. Congress. She is the first Greek-American congresswoman. With her 1989 marriage to McKernan, she became the first person to simultaneously be a member of Congress and First Lady of a state. She never lost an election in her 35 years as an elected official, and in the 2006 midterm senatorial elections, she won with a reported 73.99% of votes. However, on Tuesday, February 27, 2012, citing excessive partisanship and a dispiriting political environment, Snowe announced she would not run for re-election in November 2012. Her surprise decision delivered a potential blow to Republicans, who needed just a handful of seats to regain control of the Senate; Snowe was considered one of their safer incumbents.

Gang of 14

Snowe meeting with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito

On May 23, 2005, Snowe was one of fourteen senators dubbed the Gang of 14, who defused a confrontation between Senate Democrats (who were filibustering several judicial nominees) and the Senate Republican leadership (who wanted to use the nominations as a flashpoint to eliminate filibusters on nominees through the so-called nuclear option). The Gang-brokered compromise precluded further filibusters and the implementation of the nuclear option for the remainder of the 109th Congress; under its terms, the Democrats retained the power to filibuster a Bush judicial nominee in an "extraordinary circumstance", and nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and William Pryor) received a simple majority vote by the full Senate. The Gang later played an important role in the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito, as they asserted that neither met the "extraordinary circumstances" provision outlined in their agreement. Snowe ultimately voted for both Roberts and Alito.

Committee assignments

Snowe in a picture of the 16 female senators in the 110th US Congress
  • Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    • Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security
    • Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet
    • Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance
    • Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard (Ranking Member)
    • Subcommittee on Science and Space
    • Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security
  • Committee on Finance
    • Subcommittee on Health Care
    • Subcommittee on Taxation, IRS Oversight, and Long-term Growth
    • Subcommittee on International Trade and Global Competitiveness
  • Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (Ranking Member)
  • Select Committee on Intelligence

Caucus memberships

  • Dairy Farmer Caucus
  • Health Technology Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • International Conservation Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Senate Tourism Caucus
  • Senate Women’s Caucus
  • Sportsmen's Caucus
  • Senate Hunger Caucus
  • Senate Oceans Caucus

Political positions

Snowe meeting with sailors returning from Iraq, at Maine's Naval Air Station Brunswick

Snowe shares a centrist ideology with her former fellow senator from Maine, Susan Collins, who is considered a "half-turn more conservative" than Snowe. Snowe supports abortion rights and gay rights, and though she previously voted to block the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, she was one of eight Republican senators to vote for the repeal on December 18, 2010. In her 2006 re-election campaign, she was one of two Republican Senate candidates endorsed by the prominent gay rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign (the other was Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, a Democrat since 2013). She was labeled one of the top ten RINOs, or what they label insufficiently conservative, in 2005 by the conservative magazine, Human Events. According to GovTrack, Snowe was the most liberal Republican Senator in 2012-13 being placed by GovTrack's analysis to the left of every Republican and several Democrats. In 2012, the non-partisan National Journal gave Snowe a composite 57% conservative score and a 43% liberal score.

Snowe supported both President Clinton's involvement in Kosovo and President George W. Bush's invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq. On fiscal issues, she has voiced support for cutting taxes as economic stimulus, although she joined fellow Republican senators Lincoln Chafee and John McCain in voting against the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. In 2004, she opposed the accelerated implementation of the Bush tax cuts citing budget concerns and she was joined by Senators Collins, McCain, and Chafee.

Snowe and Chair Mary Landrieu address the Small Business Committee
With fellow Maine Senator Susan Collins

Snowe is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership and supports stem cell research. She is also a member of Republicans for Environmental Protection, the Republican Majority for Choice, Republicans for Choice and The Wish List (Women In the Senate and House), a group of pro-choice Republican women. Her highest composite conservative score according to the National Journal was a 63% in 2010 and her highest composite liberal score was a 55.5% in 2006. She voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, an amendment aimed at banning gay marriage, in 2004. She voted against banning gay marriage in 2006 for a second time. In 2005 and 2007, she voted to support embryonic stem-cell research. In 2008, Snowe endorsed Republican candidate John McCain for President of the United States.

In the 111th Congress, Snowe backed the release of additional Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While she opposed President Obama's budget resolution, she pledged to work in a bipartisan manner on the issues of health care reform and energy.

In 2007, Olympia Snowe was among the Republicans who voted in favor of the McCain-Kennedy bill to give citizenship to undocumented immigrants. However, she voted against the DREAM Act in 2010. She also voted to continue funding to 'sanctuary cities,' voted against eliminating the 'Y' guestworker visa program, but she also voted in favor of building a fence along the southern border and voted to make English the official language of the United States.

"In October 2009, Snowe was the sole Republican in the Senate to vote for the Finance Committee’s health care reform bill." However, she stated that she might not support the final bill due to strong reservations. Snowe was one of three Republicans to break with their party and vote with Democrats to end a filibuster of a defense spending bill; the filibuster was meant to delay or stop the vote on health care legislation. In December 2009, Snowe voted against cloture for two procedural motions and ultimately against the Senate Health Care Reform Bill. Snowe again voted against health care reform when she voted "no" on the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. She was one of eight Republicans who voted with Democrats to repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.

When Snowe announced in February 2012 that she would not seek re-election, it was reported that she and Democrat Ben Nelson, who also did not seek re-election, had the closest overlap of any two members of the U.S. Senate.

In 2012, Snowe endorsed Republican candidate Mitt Romney for President of the United States. After leaving the Senate, Snowe announced her support for same-sex marriage.

Snowe has been on the Board of Directors for the investment counsel firm T. Rowe Price since 2013. She opposed Donald Trump as the GOP nominee in 2016. She said that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton were the least partisan 2016 presidential candidates.

Electoral history

Townspeople and businesses in Bethel, Maine created "Olympia" the snow-woman, named after Snowe
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe (incumbent) 405,596 74.01%
Democratic Jean Hay Bright 113,131 20.59%
Independent William H. Slavick 26,222 5.37%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe (incumbent) 437,689 68.94%
Democratic Mark Lawrence 197,183 31.06%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe 308,244 60.24%
Democratic Tom Andrews 186,042 36.36%
Independent Plato Truman 17,205 3.36%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe (incumbent) 153,022 49.13%
Democratic Patrick K. McGowan 130,824 42.01%
Green Jonathan K. Carter 27,526 8.84%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe (incumbent) 121,704 51.02%
Democratic Patrick K. McGowan 116,798 48.97%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe (incumbent) 167,226 66.17%
Democratic Kenneth P. Hayes 85,346 33.77%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe (incumbent) 148,770 77.32%
Democratic Richard R. Charette 43,614 22.67%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe (incumbent) 192,166 75.72%
Democratic Chipman C. Bull 57,347 22.60%
Constitution Kenneth E. Stoddard 4,242 1.67%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe (incumbent) 136,075 66.65%
Democratic James Patrick Dunleavy 68,086 33.35%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe (incumbent) 186,406 78.50%
Democratic Harold L. Silverman 51,026 21.49%
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Olympia Snowe 87,939 50.82%
Democratic Markham J. Gartley 70,691 40.85%
Independent Frederick W. Whittaker 8,035 4.64%
Independent Eddie Shurtleff 1,923 1.11%
Independent Robert H. Burmeister 1,653 0.96%
Independent Margaret E. Cousins 1,573 0.91%
Independent Robert L. Cousins 1,223 0.71%
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 07 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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