Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) used to have a reputation as one of the few moderate Republicans persuadable to peel away from the pack and support bipartisan legislation sponsored by her Democratic colleagues.
Serving alongside Maine’s other Senator, Independent Angus King, Collins once enjoyed healthy approval ratings from the fiercely individualistic voters in the North-Eastern state.
Her popularity began to wane, however, when she refused to buck the party line in favor of moral principles in several instances during the Trump administration, most famously providing a deciding vote in favor of the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite her generally pro-choice stance as the fate of Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance.
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Now, Bloomberg News is reporting that Senator Collins is considering not running for re-election as her poll numbers among Maine voters have plummeted as she realizes that she’s too conservative for the state’s progressives and too liberal for the right-wing extremists who support President Trump.
The website says that Collins is waiting until the fall to decide whether to seek a fifth term as Senator, eying the drop from a 78 percent approval rating in 2015 to a dismal 45 percent today, according to Morning Consult.
Collins is already facing a primary challenge for the Republican nomination from the Trumpeteer-flank of her party, with right-wing blogger Derek Levasseur already announcing his candidacy to ensure a more reliable supporter of the president heads the GOP Senate ticket in the 2020 elections.
On the Democratic side of the upcoming race, candidates are falling over themselves for the chance to run against the incumbent that they see as increasingly vulnerable with three candidates ready to compete for that privilege — the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Sara Gideon, attorney Bre Kidman, and retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Jonathan Treacy.
With Democrats on the national level beginning to realize that regaining control of the Senate is as crucial to their success as removing President Trump from office is, the battle for Collins’ current seat is an important element of the formula that could help the party achieve its aims.
While Collins may be harboring doubts about her political future, she sounded confident that her bipartisan impulses would help her overcome her current unpopularity during her interview with Bloomberg News. While decrying the nation’s bitter political divisions, Collins pointed to her record as a centrist as a potential saving grace.
“The divisiveness of our country and the unceasing attacks by dark money groups in Maine have clearly had an impact. But I believe that once Mainers really focus on the race and we remind them of my being the No. 1 most bipartisan member of the Senate — and all the accomplishments that I can point to that have directly benefited the state — I’ll be fine,” the senator told Bloomberg News.
We’ll have to wait until the fall to know what Senator Collins’ decision on returning to the political fray will be, but whoever winds up with the Republican nomination for Maine Senator, we can only hope that they are washed out to sea in an enormous blue wave that will sweep the GOP out of both the White House and the Senate.
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Original reporting by Steven T. Dennis at Bloomberg News.