Collins says running as Independent ‘crossed my mind’

Greg Nash

Sen. Susan Collins (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.

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 King, is an Independent, albeit one who caucuses with Senate Democrats. 

Collins ignited a Democratic furor in 2018 when she voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh 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 Trump, 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 Biden holding on to a narrow lead there in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average

Tags 2020 election Angus King Brett Kavanaugh Donald Trump Independent Joe Biden Maine Senate race New England Republican Sara Gideon Susan Collins

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