Maine Republicans urge Susan Collins to vote against military action in Syria

Posted Sept. 10, 2013, at 4:05 p.m.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins

AUBURN, Maine — A group of prominent Maine Republicans, including the assistant minority leader in the state’s House of Representatives, is urging U.S. Sen. Susan Collins to vote against any military action in Syria.

“Syria is caught up in a dangerous civil war, and while events unfolding in that region are undeniably tragic, the use of military force by the United States will not improve the situation,” the group of 108 wrote in a letter to Collins on Monday. “There are no ‘good’ sides in this conflict. President Obama’s current plan to intervene in Syria will do little to improve the circumstances of the Syrian people. A merely symbolic show of force, which could have unforeseen consequences that ripple across the region and the world, is not the answer. There are no good outcomes foreseen in any such action.”

Collins and a group of Senate Republicans were meeting with President Barack Obama on Tuesday afternoon, according to her spokesman in Washington, Kevin Kelley.

Kelley said he expected she would issue a statement on her position later Tuesday.

Rep. Alex Willette, R-Mapleton, the Maine House assistant minority leader, is the highest ranking signatory. Willette, who was in Washington on Tuesday on other business, said he earlier sent a personal letter to the state’s entire congressional delegation.

A missile strike against Syria may be “symbolic,” Willette said by cellphone Tuesday, “but I just think it would have some consequences that would ripple across that region and it isn’t good for American foreign policy.”

Collins, a bellwether as the U.S. Senate’s leading GOP moderate, told reporters Monday evening that she was “leaning against” the resolution despite spending three hours at Vice President Joe Biden’s home Sunday night with a group of fellow Senate Republicans discussing the Syria issue. Obama joined the group for an hour.

The group includes a number of current and former state lawmakers as well as Maine Republican Party officials and candidates for office.

The letter was drafted by state Senate District 20 candidate Eric Brakey, a New Gloucester Republican. According to Brakey, the letter has been signed by 48 or two-thirds of the Maine Republican State Committee.

In a prepared statement Brakey echoed Willette’s concern.

“A merely symbolic show of force, which could have unforeseen consequences that ripple across the region and the world, is not the answer,” he said.

Other signers include state Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls; state Rep. Jeff Timberlake, R-Turner; Rep. Dale Crafts, R-Lisbon; and Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls; among others.

Information from The Washington Post was used in this report.

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