Dixmont Democrat first to issue Snowe challenge
Bangor Daily News by Jeff Tuttle
May 27, 2005
Democrat Jean Hay Bright this week became the first in her party to officially launch a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe.

The Dixmont political activist said her decision to seek the seat in 2006 came after a tour of the state in which she found voters dissatisfied with the political makeup in Washington.

"The only way we can take back our America is to vote our vision, vote our values, by voting for candidates who share those visions and values," Hay Bright said in a Wednesday statement announcing her candidacy.

In a subsequent interview Thursday, Hay Bright said she was running to end the war in Iraq, end tax cuts for the wealthy and preserve Social Security. She also counted among her top priorities a national health care system and ending unfair trade agreements.

While Hay Bright is the first Democrat to enter the ring, she is unlikely to be the only one, according to party officials.

"I think there will be a lot of interest in that seat," said Maine Democratic Party executive director Rich Pelletier-Simpson, contending that Snowe's moderation has reduced her effectiveness in the majority party and, consequently, on Capitol Hill.

But Republican analyst Christian Potholm on Thursday scoffed at the idea that Snowe, who has never lost an election, was vulnerable.

"Zero," the Bowdoin College professor said of Democrats' chances to unseat the senior senator, who enjoys high approval ratings. "It's hard to see a chink in that armor."

Hay Bright has run for federal office twice before. She was a Democratic candidate for Congress in 1994 in the 2nd District primary, which was won by now-Gov. John E. Baldacci. She also ran in the 1996 primary for U.S. Senate. Former Gov. Joseph Brennan won that nomination, but lost in the general election to Republican Susan Collins.

Hay Bright, 57, recently worked as a volunteer for the 2004 presidential campaign of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. An author and commercial organic farmer, Hay Bright has also worked as a journalist, including a tenure at the Bangor Daily News.