The hunt for a third-party candidate to heal the nation's partisan-ravaged woes broke wide open Tuesday with Olympia Snowe's surprise departure from the Senate, followed by her veiled promise to work toward change "outside the United States Senate." Her call to return to a "new era of civility" ignited speculation of a third-party run under the civility-obsessed banner of Americans Elect, which puts her in a crowded cohort of floated candidates. In case you've been living under a rock (or gleefully avoiding Tom Friedman columns), Americans Elect is the non-partisan group hosting the first online primary to elect a third-party moderate candidate. It's buoyed by a secret, $22 million pile of hedge fund money and a mission to torpedo the two-party system. So who are these potential candidates? Behold, the milquetoast primary:

Olympia Snowe The fiscally conservative, socially liberal senator has all the trappings of a first-rate Americans Elect candidate. As The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins described her today, she fits that mushy middle-ground that Americans Elect has been trumpetting. "She's basically the avatar of centrist behavior," he writes. "She's civil in tone and moderate in voting record ... A pal of corporate America who'd advocate against taxing carried interest and onerous financial sector regulation, but would do so without a lot of fringey right-wing baggage or lefty concerns for 'the 99%.'" Thus far, Snowe says she has "no plans" for a third-party run, but a potential run remains under intense speculation.  

Buddy Roemer He got shut out of the GOP debates, so he went online. A rarity on the candidate wish list, Roemer has actually formally pledged to run in the Americans Elect primary. "Today I officially announce that I will seek the Americans Elect nomination as a proud Republican but as an even prouder American," the former Louisiana governor announced in November. As Slate's Dave Weigel has described him, he also fits that unconventional Americans Elect mold "as the Republican who bemoans loose campaign finance law and endorses Occupy Wall Street."

Evan Bayh The moderate Indiana Democrat has had his name floated a number of times, and he's even got his own Americans Elect profile. He hasn't announced any intentions to run, but his record as a welfare reformer, tax cutter, fiscal hawk, and social liberal puts him in that mushy mix of candidates. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Michael Bloomberg Speculating on the New York mayor's intentions to run for president used to be a constant obsession but his repeated denials have been resolute. Still, The New York Times' Michael Shear reported last week that "there are plenty of people urging Mr. Bloomberg to seek the Americans Elect nomination and try to bring his brand of no-nonsense business skills to the White House." The major downer Bloomberg continues to cite is that "structural impediments" make it too difficult to run third-party. 
 
 
John Huntsman On MSNBC's Morning Joe, the failed GOP presidential contender reignited hopes of an Americans Elect run by saying it would be a "healthy thing" if a third-party candidate ran. He also insisted he wasn't anyone's surrogate, even though he endorsed Romney. At the same time, he rejected notions that he would be an American elect candidate: “That ain’t gonna be me," he said.