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Collins says running as Independent 'crossed my mind'

Collins says running as Independent 'crossed my mind'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy MORE (R-Maine) said she briefly considered running for reelection as an Independent but ultimately decided to stick with the GOP because of her loyalty to “the New England brand of Republicanism.”

“It crossed my mind,” Collins, the last remaining Republican member of Congress from New England, told The New York Times in an interview.

Collins is currently facing the toughest reelection bid of her decades-long Senate career. Most recent polling shows her Democratic opponent, Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon, leading in the race by relatively comfortable margins, and Democratic donors have poured tens of millions of dollars into defeating Collins.

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Running as an Independent would not be unthinkable for Collins. She has cultivated a reputation as a moderate, independent-minded Republican throughout her 23 years in the Senate, and Maine’s other U.S. senator, Angus KingAngus KingSenate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote The eight Democrats who voted 'no' on minimum wage Justice Democrats call moderates' votes against minimum wage hike 'unconscionable' MORE, is an Independent, albeit one who caucuses with Senate Democrats. 

Collins ignited a Democratic furor in 2018 when she voted to confirm Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTrump promises to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski Disgraced former media darling Andrew Cuomo must resign, but more for this reason Justices hear sparring over scope of safeguards for minority voters MORE to the Supreme Court as he faced allegations of sexual assault dating back to his time in high school. 

After that vote, Democrats immediately put Collins in their electoral crosshairs. She is now among the most vulnerable Republican incumbents facing reelection this year, and her political fate in November will help determine which party controls the Senate in 2021. 

Also complicating her reelection prospects is President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE, who is facing a tough reelection bid himself. Trump carried Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in 2016, though he lost the state’s 1st District. This year, however, polls show a much more competitive race in the 1st District, with Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it MORE holding on to a narrow lead there in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average