The hunt for a third-party candidate to heal the nation's partisan-ravaged woes broke wide open Tuesday with Olympia Snowe's surprise departure from the Senate, followed by her veiled promise to work toward change "outside the United States Senate." Her call to return to a "new era of civility" ignited speculation of a third-party run under the civility-obsessed banner of Americans Elect, which puts her in a crowded cohort of floated candidates. In case you've been living under a rock (or gleefully avoiding Tom Friedman columns), Americans Elect is the non-partisan group hosting the first online primary to elect a third-party moderate candidate. It's buoyed by a secret, $22 million pile of hedge fund money and a mission to torpedo the two-party system. So who are these potential candidates? Behold, the milquetoast primary:
Olympia Snowe The fiscally conservative, socially liberal senator has all the trappings of a first-rate Americans Elect candidate. As The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins described her today, she fits that mushy middle-ground that Americans Elect has been trumpetting. "She's basically the avatar of centrist behavior," he writes. "She's civil in tone and moderate in voting record ... A pal of corporate America who'd advocate against taxing carried interest and onerous financial sector regulation, but would do so without a lot of fringey right-wing baggage or lefty concerns for 'the 99%.'" Thus far, Snowe says she has "no plans" for a third-party run, but a potential run remains under intense speculation.