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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 CollinsTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right 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 KingLeadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns Top cybersecurity official ousted by Trump Republicans start turning the page on Trump era 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 KavanaughCOVID-19: Justice Alito overstepped judicial boundaries Defusing the judicial confirmation process The magnificent moderation of Susan Collins 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 John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden 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 adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  New DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad MORE holding on to a narrow lead there in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average