Olympia Snowe

U.S. congresswoman, senator
Born: 1947
Birthplace: Augusta, Maine

Snowe has been a U.S. senator from Maine since 1995. The daughter of Greek immigrants, Olympia Jean Bouchles earned a B.A. in political science in 1969 from the University of Maine at Orono. She became a Republican when she married Peter Trafton Snowe, a member of the state legislature. After serving on the Auburn Board of Voter Registration for two years, she joined the staff of then Congressman William S. Cohen (later defense secretary in the Clinton Administration.) In 1973, Snowe's husband was killed in a car crash and she was elected to fill his legislative seat. She was reelected in 1974 and went on to serve one term in the state senate, and two years later she ran successfully for Congress. In her campaign she opposed construction of a large dam in the district and supported national health insurance. Snowe served in the House until 1994, compiling a maverick voting record, often joining a group of northern, liberal Republicans called “Gypsy Moths.” Although she rose to a leadership position, becoming Republican Deputy Whip, she often broke party ranks on such issues as abortion, which she supports. Snowe was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994, where she has worked on issues involving the fishing industry, the oceans, the merchant marine, tourism, and consumer affairs. In 1998, she was one of the few Republican senators to vote against convicting President Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial. Snowe is married to former Maine governor John R. McKernan, Jr. The couple lives in Auburn when not in Washington.