Collins to remain in Senate, bypass run for ME governor

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins says she will decide this week if she's running.

Collins grew up in Caribou, in far northern Maine.

Her announcement ends widespread speculation that the 20-year veteran of the Senate would return to ME and seek to finish her political career in the governor's mansion - a position denied to her in 1994 when she finished third in a five-way race. She introduced a bill to let transgender people serve in the military and opposed efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.

It all but guarantees that her mark on Maine's political history will be stamped in the Senate, where she'll have served for 24 years at the end of this term in 2021 - as long as Margaret Chase Smith, her idol, and longer than William Cohen, her predecessor and mentor.

The four-term incumbent for weeks had flirted publicly with the idea of launching a bid to succeed Governor Paul LePage, a fiery conservative who was first elected in 2010 on a wave of support from the populist Tea Party movement.

Like President Donald Trump, LePage has been a polarizing leader. "Ultimately I've been guided by my sense of where I can do the most good for Maine and the nation", she said.

In a Senate where Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority and Democrats are broadly united against much of Trump's agenda, Collins's vote can be pivotal.

Collins doesn't shy away from her role in the middle. The only political race she lost was for governor, in 1994. "I have demonstrated the ability to work across the aisle to build coalitions and to listen to the concerns of the people of my state, my country and my colleagues", Collins said. She was re-elected with 68.5 percent of votes in 2014, 61.3 percent in 2008 and 58.4 percent in 2002. But Maine constitutional law expert Marshall Tinkle said she wouldn't have to resign to run and could pick her successor after being sworn in. For all his successes, though, LePage is known for his bombastic leadership style.



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