Maine’s Snowe to unveil gridlock reforms
By ALANNA DURKIN
The Associated Press | June 24,2014
AUGUSTA, Maine — Former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, whose frustration with partisanship drove her to leave office more than two years ago, said Monday that the nation is at a crossroads as to whether it propels change in Washington or allows political dysfunction to become a way of life.
On Tuesday, Snowe will help unveil a set of recommendations — on issues including redistricting, filibuster reform and campaign finance — designed to eliminate gridlock and dysfunction in government. She said the current situation is putting the country in jeopardy by preventing work from being done and causing concern nationwide.
“If we don’t change the fundamental problem, we can never get to the point of addressing the key issues,” she said in an interview.
Snowe will join former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, and Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, as well as former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, for the release of the Bipartisan Policy Center Commission on Political Reform’s report titled “Governing in Polarized America: A Bipartisan Blueprint to Strengthen our Democracy.”
Since surprising Maine’s political establishment in February 2012 by announcing that she wouldn’t seek re-election, the three-term moderate has been working from the outside to try to improve the functionality of Congress. She said she realized “the fight had to be fought differently.”
Among her top priorities are holding more open primaries, using redistricting commissions to draw electoral lines instead of state Legislatures and improving communication between branches of government.
Broadening voter participation in primaries is essential to allow for the election of more candidates that reflect the broader views of their political parties instead of ideological extremes, she said. She called it “deeply disturbing” that 10 percent of a state’s population — the voter turnout in some primaries — can ultimately choose who serves in Congress.
Following the release of the report, the group plans to hold events on college campuses, meet with members of Congress and encourage residents to bring citizen referendums to drive change in their states.