WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warmly greeted the news that the GOP colleague who has stymied passage of some of his main agenda items will be staying in Congress.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a reliable moderate who has served in the upper chamber since 1997, was easily re-elected to a six-term in 2014.
“As most of you know, I have been deliberating for some time about whether or not to seek the Republican nomination for governor,” Collins said of the 2018 race this morning at the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Business Breakfast in her home state. “Shortly after I was re-elected to the Senate in 2014, many residents of our state began urging me to consider running for governor. I am touched that many of our residents believe that I could provide our state with thoughtful and effective leadership, particularly in providing greater economic opportunities and more jobs throughout our state. The ‘hands-on’ nature of the governor’s job is very appealing to me.”
“Many who stopped me on the streets, in stores, at church, and in countless communities have also suggested that I could help heal the divisions in our state,” she added in a dig at GOP Gov. Paul LePage. “…Were I to be successful in a campaign for governor, it would, of course, mean giving up my seat in the United States Senate. When I was first sworn in, I was 99th in seniority. I am now 15th.”
Collins noted that Maine voters “have rewarded” her efforts in Congress “by re-electing me three times, by ever-increasing margins, and for these votes of confidence, I will be forever grateful.”
She said the “decision has not been an easy one,” but she’d be staying put.
“These are difficult times in our country, and the Senate reflects the discord and division that characterize our nation today. One of my Senate colleagues wrote me a lovely note urging me to stay in the Senate, saying: ‘The institution would suffer in your absence. While the temptation might be to walk away and leave the problems to others, there are very few who have the ability to bring about positive change. You are such a person,'” Collins said.
“As I thought about this senator’s words, I realized how much remains to be done in a divided and troubled Washington if we are to serve the people of our states,” she added. “I have demonstrated the ability to work across the aisle, to build coalitions, and to listen to the people of my state and my country. The challenges we face today are enormous – from frustrated families with stagnant wages and expensive health care to a nuclear-armed North Korea and Russian interference in the very fabric of our democracy, our elections.”
Collins concluded “that the best way that I can contribute to these priorities is to remain a member of the United States Senate.”
McConnell declared in a statement that Collins “lives up to her state motto, Dirigo [I lead], every day in the Senate.”
“She never misses votes. She fights fiercely for her constituents. She brings conviction, smarts and leadership to every issue,” the GOP leader said. “Her decision to remain in the Senate is important not only for the people of Maine, who she serves so well, but for the nation as a whole.”