U.S. Sen. Susan Collins will announce whether she will run for governor on Friday morning.
Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins, confirmed that Collins has set a date and time to announce her decision. Clark declined to offer any details other than that Collins will make the announcement in Maine.
Collins, a Republican, has been mulling a gubernatorial run for months and has yet to provide any indication which way she is leaning on the decision. She has delayed her own schedule for the announcement at least twice.
Collins, 64, is serving her fourth term in the Senate since first being elected in 1996. Consistently polling as Maine’s most popular elected official, she garnered more than 60 percent of the statewide vote in the 2008 and 2014 elections.
But a failed run for governor remains a blemish on her electoral record. In a four-way race for the governorship in 1994, Collins earned 23 percent of the vote and placed third behind Democrat Joseph Brennan and the winner, independent Angus King.
Republican Gov. Paul LePage is term-limited out of office in 2018, leaving the post open. Numerous Republicans, Democrats and independents have announced they are candidates.
Collins entering the race would set up a Republican primary battle that already has three candidates considered more conservative than Collins: Former Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette of Newport and Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason of Lisbon Falls.
Winning the primary could well prove to be more challenging than the general election for Collins, who has angered some in her party, including LePage, for her opposition to President Donald Trump during last year’s presidential election and votes she has taken since then against some of his nominees and two attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act health care law. Earlier in her career, she showed her moderation on social issues such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage, both issues she has supported.
Numerous Maine voters from both parties and others who identified as independents told the Bangor Daily News recently that they appreciate Collins’ relatively moderate stance in the Senate, though a few others said they could not vote for her again after she played such a significant role in blocking the Obamacare repeal bills.
Meanwhile, some Senate Democrats and independent Sen. Angus King from Maine have urged her not to leave the chamber because she wields significant power as a swing vote to blunt Trump’s agenda. Her Senate term expires in 2020, and with some prominent Republicans retiring or facing primary challenges, she’s likely to gain seniority in the next Senate.