Susan Collins keeps GOP alive in New England, political journal says

Posted March 14, 2013, at 5:15 p.m.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins speaks Tuesday April 3, 2012 at ground breaking ceremonies for a multi-million dollar expansion at Idexx Laboratories in Westbrook.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins speaks Tuesday April 3, 2012 at ground breaking ceremonies for a multi-million dollar expansion at Idexx Laboratories in Westbrook. Buy Photo

WASHINGTON — The National Journal, a publication for Washington insiders and political junkies, points to Sen. Susan Collins as the reason why Republicans “won’t be run out of New England.”

In a story posted Thursday, Michael Catalini of the National Journal writes that Collins “is in a commanding position to win a fourth term” in 2014. He cites her appearance this week at a reception at the National Republican Senatorial Committee as an indication that Collins is preparing to kick off her re-election campaign.

Catalini’s story also quotes Maine’s other senator, independent Angus King, praising Collins and citing their similarities.

“She makes her own decisions; she’s incredibly diligent. She’s ferocious on behalf of her constituents,” King said in an interview with National Journal.

King told the National Journal he hasn’t decided whether to endorse Collins if she runs in 2014, and that he’s not aware of any independent candidates who have expressed interest in challenging her.

Catalini spoke to Mike Cuzzi, a Democratic political strategist from Maine, and Dan Demeritt, a former Collins staffer who now works as a political consultant in Maine. Both suggest that Democrats are more focused on finding a strong challenger to Republican Gov. Paul LePage than to Collins in 2014.

Maine’s thin political bench, according to Catalini, will make it more difficult for Democrats to find and fund strong challengers to both Collins and LePage, who will be their clear target in 2014.

Nationally, Republican plans to gain control of the Senate rely on Collins retaining her seat, Catalini writes, in part because the GOP is still smarting from the loss of what they thought was a sure Republican victory in 2012 until another moderate Maine Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe, announced her plans to retire. That opened the Senate seat she had held for 18 years to King, who caucuses with Senate Democrats.

Collins is the only Republican senator who would be seeking re-election in a “blue state” in 2014, but “her centrist voting record resonates with Mainers.” Catalini quotes an unnamed Democratic operative describing Collins as the last Republican left in New England “who’s not crazy or out of office.”

Although the National Journal rates Collins as among the most moderate U.S. senators, “more likely to vote with red-state Democrats than with many of her Republican colleagues,” Catalini points to disorganization among tea party conservatives in Maine as reason that it’s unlikely Collins will face a serious primary challenge from the right.

“You need someone with the resources. We just don’t have anybody like that; there’s nobody for that element to rally around. That person’s a myth,” Demeritt told the National Journal.

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