Key Moderate Susan Collins Announces She’ll Stay In Senate, Won’t Run For Governor

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine walks the hallways on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday, July 13, 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., rolls out the GOP's revised health care bill, pushing toward a showdown vote next week with opposition within the Republican ranks. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
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Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) will forego a run for governor and stay in the Senate, she announced Friday, keeping a key moderate Republican in the upper chamber.

“I have decided that the best way that I can contribute to these priorities is to remain a member of the United States Senate,” Collins announced Friday in Maine.

Collins is one of the last true remaining Republican moderates in the Senate, and her decision to stay means the Senate will retain one of the few Republicans who has shown a willingness to stand up to President Trump and break with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The three-term senator had given serious thought to returning to her state for good and running for governor, something she’s done before, and during the Friday morning event at a regional Chamber of Commerce event she said the “hands-on nature” of gubernatorial work “very much appealed” to her. But she said she could do more by remaining in D.C.

Ultimately I have been guided by my sense of where I could do the most for the people of Maine and for the nation. These are difficult times for our country and the Senate reflects the discord and division that characterize the Senate today,” she said. “I realized how much needs to be done in a divided and troubled Washington.”

Her decision to stay slows a rush to the exits from moderate Republicans and independent thinkers in both chambers. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) are some of the Republicans who have shown a willingness to buck party leaders who have decided not to run again.

Collins’ vote has been pivotal through much of her time in Congress, especially in recent years. She was one of three Republicans who voted against the GOP’s attempts to repeal Obamacare earlier this year, along with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), effectively killing the bill.

She was also one of just two Republicans, along with Murkowski, to oppose the nomination Secretary of Education Betsy Devos. She has played a key role on a number of other bipartisan efforts over the years — she was one of just two Republicans to vote for President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package in 2009, casting the deciding votes for a deal that many economists credit with halting the economic collapse.

If Collins had run and won, Maine law says the governor would pick her replacement, which most experts think means controversial outgoing Gov. Paul LePage (R) would put in a placeholder who would likely be much more conservative than her. Democrats would have likely run a serious challenge in 2020. But now that’s moot — and the Senate will retain one of the few of a dying breed, a true moderate Republican.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.
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