Republican Sen. Susan Collins says she will not run for ME governor and will stay in the U.S. Senate.
Prior to her announcement on Friday, Collins, 64, seemed genuinely conflicted about a gubernatorial bid. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks at a news conference at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.
The governor has since used his weekly radio addresses and conservative radio appearances to berate Collins over her opposition to two controversial bills repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Such a move would also send shock waves through the Senate, jeopardizing the GOP's chances of holding her seat after her term ends in 2020 and marking another defection from the senate Republican conference amid the populist uprising fueled by President Donald Trump and his allies.
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Collins told a group of business leaders in Rockland, on Maine's midcoast, that she believed she could accomplish more for the state in her current role.
Some of her supporters were anxious that leaving the Senate would have left Maine's pugnacious governor to appoint her replacement. 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. Collins, first elected in 1996, is now serving her fourth term in the Senate.
LePage has repeatedly bashed Collins, declaring almost a year ago that "she's done in the Republican party" because she refused to support Trump last year.
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She has won her last few elections handily.
Collins isn't "done", but her standing with hard-line Republicans may be damaged. Though she lost that race, she said she was still drawn to the ability of a governor to have a direct and immediate effect on people's lives by creating jobs and spurring economic development.
Now, the Republican field could grow: Former Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew of South China, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport and Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls are the only ones running.
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