Collins says running as Independent 'crossed my mind'

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

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTop Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Bill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands 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 KingNew Senate bill would hurt charities and those they serve Overnight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada 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 KavanaughOn The Money: Biden asks Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration | Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter Biden calls on Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration An obscure Supreme Court ruling is a cautionary tale of federal power 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 TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' 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 BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE holding on to a narrow lead there in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average