U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is expected to decide next week whether she’ll join the 2018 gubernatorial race — and some of the moderate Maine Republican’s fellow senators don’t want her to go.
Her announcement is planned for the Senate’s Columbus Day recess. Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark said in an email that her decision will come during the senator’s state work period around the holiday. The recess runs from Oct. 9 to Oct. 13.
Collins has said for months that she’s conflicted between her senior post in the Senate and her desire to work on state-level economic development.
Some of her colleagues don’t want her to run, including independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine. Politico reported Tuesday that other senators are urging Collins not to return home to run to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Paul LePage next year, saying she’s too valuable as a check on her fellow Republicans. But they believe that she’s seriously weighing it.
King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is “begging” her not to run. Democrat Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota texted her recently to say, “Don’t do it,” and Claire McCaskill of Missouri said, “We don’t have enough folks like her.”
Collins would likely have her toughest challenge en route to the governorship in the 2018 Republican primary, where she’d have to woo conservative Republicans who don’t value her stance as a moderate in the Senate.
Collins has polled as Maine’s most widely popular politician, but didn’t support President Donald Trump last year when he became the party’s presumptive nominee and has twice opposed Republican bids to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
LePage told supporters in July that Collins would “ back down” from a run if his base rejected her and a shadowy poll from a Democratic firm just afterward said more than six in 10 likely Republican primary voters disapprove of her.