Saturday, 16 December, 2017

Maine Republican who stood up to Trump to stay in US Senate

Melinda Barton | 13 October, 2017, 16:02

Sen. Susan Collins of ME announced Friday that she will not run for governor in 2018, renewing her commitment to serve in a sharply polarized Senate where her centrist Republican positions have made her a key bulwark against much of President Trump's agenda.

Saying she believes she can do more good for Mainers by staying in the U.S. Senate, the 64-year-old Collins announced her decision on Friday at an event in Rockport. Additionally, Collins would have control of the state bureaucracy, potentially using it and the bully pulpit of the governor's office to advance a policy agenda to work on initiatives that could improve Maine's economic outlook.

Speculation about Collins' political future has been swirling for more than a year in her home state, where the moderate remains popular even as the Maine GOP has become more conservative. Her opposition has blocked two President Trump-backed bids to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Collins supported Republican presidential candidates until coming out against Donald Trump a year ago. Gov. Paul R. LePage, a fellow Republican who is barred by term limits from seeking a third term, has been stirring the political pot against her. Ms. Collins, a moderate who has glided to victory in her recent elections, this time faced the likely prospect of bruising and expensive attacks from the right.

The Republican senator said she made her decision based on where she could do the most for ME and the country.

She has been a champion for those who want to hold Trump in check: She was one of three Republican senators who sunk the Senate health care bill pushed by his administration. She won her fourth.

Collins doesn't shy away from her role in the middle. Her current term ends in 2020. She spoke of how she's proud of her time in the Senate, and how she felt as though she was able to represent ME well.

Maine's 2018 gubernatorial race could be a referendum on the legacy of LePage, whose administration slashed entitlement growth and touts a healthy state surplus.