Maine Senate Hopefuls Vie for Women's Support

April 17, 2012 — Maine voters have elected a woman to the U.S. Senate for seven of the last eight decades, and their hesitancy to end that tradition could challenge former Gov. Angus King (I) as he seeks to replace retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R), the AP/Houston Chronicle reports.

Like Snowe, King and his leading Democratic challenger -- state Sen. Cynthia Dill -- support abortion rights. King and Dill also both support increased access to contraception and oppose legislation that would block funding to Planned Parenthood. However, many voters feel that "women are best suited to defending women's rights on Capitol Hill," and King will need to earn women's support to succeed, according to the AP/Chronicle.

King said that although the state's history of female senators is "important," he "think[s] it's patronizing to women to say you have to be a member of the female gender in order to support the interests and rights and privacy of women. That's like saying white people shouldn't pass the Civil Rights Act." He added that conservatives' focus on abortion, contraception and women's health providers is "a huge mistake."

Meanwhile, Dill also faces challenges. Her campaign is struggling to raise money, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has not endorsed her. The committee does not plan to take a position on the race until after the Democratic primary, a spokesperson said (Peoples, AP/Houston Chronicle, 4/16).