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McCain’s Maine Backers

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Monday that Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe (R) and Susan Collins (R) will serve as co-chairwomen of his presidential exploratory effort in the Pine Tree State. [IMGCAP(1)]

State Rep. Josh Tardy, the House Republican leader, will serve as vice chairman of McCain’s campaign in the state.

The endorsements of Snowe and Collins, both centrists, are not surprising despite the fact that they both endorsed then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush and not McCain in the 2000 Republican primary.

The Maine Senators, along with McCain, were members of the “Gang of 14,” which brokered a deal on judicial nominations in 2005.

“I’ve known and respected John for many years from our service together in the House and Senate and I have always found him to be genuine, straightforward, and honest,” Snowe said in a statement.

Snowe and Collins join GOP Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Gordon Smith (Ore.) and Trent Lott (Miss.) as McCain’s public backers in the Senate.

Seeking a CAO. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced in early December that House Chief Administrative Officer Jay Eagen would keep his job at least through January to facilitate transition efforts on Capitol Hill. Now, as that deadline approaches, one high-ranking Republican hopes the next CAO will be appointed in a bipartisan manner.

In a letter to House Administration Chairwoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.) on Monday, the panel’s ranking member, Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), suggested that a bipartisan CAO search committee be formed to find candidates to fill one of the House’s top patronage posts.

“While the proper administration of the House is ultimately the responsibility of the Majority, primarily executed through the Committee on House Administration, the successful operation of the House is certainly not a partisan matter,” Ehlers wrote. “It is now incumbent on the Committee to take full advantage of Mr. Eagen’s remaining tenure at the House by initiating an open and fully competitive search for his successor as soon as possible.”

Pelosi’s office has not announced exactly how a successor for Eagen would be chosen, but some sort of search process is expected to take place.

Millender-McDonald could not be reached for comment on Ehlers’ letter Monday afternoon.

— Lauren W. Whittington and John McArdle

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