Susan Collins says she doesn't regret Kavanaugh vote 'in the least'

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Senate confirms eight Trump court picks in three days Lawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities MORE (R-Maine) said she does not regret her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court denies Trump request to immediately resume federal executions House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Justices appear cautious of expanding gun rights in NY case MORE, despite the vote becoming a key issue among Democrats hoping to unseat her when she is up for reelection next year. 

“I do not regret my vote in the least,” she said in an interview with The New York Times published Saturday.

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Collins cited Kavanaugh’s abortion record during his tenure on the high court.

Though he voted to uphold a Louisiana law restricting abortion access, he declined to take up a case that posed a threat to Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedure nationwide.

The Maine Republican has become a top target for Democrats looking to flip Senate seats in 2020 following her vote to confirm Kavanaugh to the high court last October. She recently gained a formidable Senate challenger in Sara Gideon, the Democratic Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, who has targeted Collins over her backing of Kavanaugh. 

“At one point, maybe Sen. Collins was different, but she doesn’t seem that way anymore: taking over a million dollars from drug companies and the insurance industry and voting to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court,” Gideon said in her campaign announcement.

Collins, who has been in the Senate since 1997, has sought to defend her reputation as a moderate amid an intense effort by progressives to recruit candidates to challenge her.

“I’m an important voice for the nation in an increasingly polarized environment,” she told the Times. “There are so few members left in the center.” 

“It’s ironic to me that I am among [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE's [D-N.Y.] top targets when there is no one who works more across the aisle,” she added.

Betsy Sweet, who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018, and Bre Kidman, an attorney, are also challenging Collins for her seat.