I missed it in all the Michiganxiety last night, but Jon Chait drew attention to the possibility that Olympia Snowe’s retirement, and the language of her retirement statement, might be related to an interest in the floating ballot-access machine calling itself Americans Elect:

Moderate retiring senators often deliver lofty, vacuous paeans to bipartisanship on their way to a lucrative lobbying career. But Snowe’s statement seems unusually specific (“unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate”) about her intent to do something.

I suspect it may not be coincidental that David Boren, the former Democratic senator from Oklahoma and oil industry lickspittle, came out for Americans Elect today. The group is set up so that its presidential and vice-presidential candidates need to come from opposing parties. The process is set up to, at least putatively, allow the voters to choose the ticket. But Americans Elect and its well-heeled funders have maintained tight control over the proceedings to ensure their envisioned ticket pairing establishmentarian insiders can prevail over candidates like , say, Ron Paul who might be able to actually win an open vote.

Snowe and Boren would make for the kind of ticket Americans Elect is looking for. Is that the plan?

I have no idea, but it does make some inherent sense, and I suspect the AE crowd is experiencing the emotional equivalent of a slow-motion riot at the possibility their efforts will eventually become the latest vehicle for the Ron Paul Revolution, which boasts exactly the kind of assets helpful in hijacking an online nominating process.

I also don’t know if the likes of Snowe and Boren would have much electoral appeal. Snowe has earned a lot of respect over the years, much of it either from Democrats or from the kind of centrist Beltway types who mourn the virtual extinction of the old northeastern Moderate Republican tradition, or who like to project their own sense of elite civic self-congratulation onto actual politicians whenever possible. She’d certainly get more media attention than her record, her popularity, or her watery ideology would justify. But like everything else connected with Americans Elect, the prospect of a Snowe-led or Snowe-supported ticket remains a shiny enigma enclosing the nasty prospect of electoral havoc.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.