Snowe's original name was Olympia Jean Boucles. She rose quickly in Maine Republican politics, working for Congressman (later Senator and Defense Secretary) William Cohen and serving in the state legislature, first in the House and then in the Senate. In 1976 she was a delegate to both the state and national Republican conventions. She left the state legislature after being elected to the United States House of Representatives, of which she was a member from 1979 to 1995, being reelected every two years. In 1994 she became the Republican candidate for a United States Senate seat and won the election. She succeeded a high-ranking Democrat, George Mitchell, who retired and did not run in that election. Snowe was reelected in 2000.