10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olympia Snowe

Senator Snowe could be a crucial vote on healthcare reform.

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Senator Snowe could be a crucial vote on healthcare reform

1. Olympia Jean Bouchles was born on Feb. 21, 1947, in Augusta, Maine, to Greek immigrant George Bouchles and Georgia Goranites Bouchles, whose parents emigrated from Sparta.

2. Both of her parents died before her 10th birthday. She was raised by an aunt and uncle in Auburn, Maine.

3. She received her primary education at St. Basil's Academy, a Greek Orthodox school in New York, then returned to Auburn, graduating from Edward Little High School in 1965. In 1969, she earned a degree in political science from the University of Maine.

4. She married state Rep. Peter Snowe in 1969. After he died in a car accident in 1973, she ran successfully to replace him in the state House.

5. In 1976, Snowe was elected to the state Senate. Two years later, she won election to the House of Representatives, becoming the first Greek-American woman in Congress.

6. In 1989, she married John McKernan, then governor of Maine. The two met while serving in the Maine legislature in the 1970s. They also served together in the House of Representatives.

7. After being re-elected to the House seven times, Snowe ran successfully for the Senate in 1994, becoming the second female senator from Maine (after Margaret Chase Smith).

8. She is very popular with her constituents. In 2000, she was re-elected with 69 percent of the vote; she won 74 percent of the vote in 2006.

9. Snowe is known as a moderate. In February 2009, she was one of just three Republicans to back President Obama's economic stimulus bill.

10. She sits on four Senate committees and is the only female Republican on the Finance Committee.


  • Senate biography
  • gpoaccess.gov
  • Washington Post