AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has declined to say how she voted in a Republican presidential primary in which President Donald Trump is uncontested, joining her top Democratic rival in not making an endorsement ahead of the Tuesday election.
Asked about whether she would support Trump in an interview with News Center Maine on Friday, Collins said she voted by absentee ballot, but she did not say how she voted. Her campaign declined to provide additional comment. She is one of Democrats’ top targets in the 2020 election.
“I’m focused on my job and also on my own campaign and I’m just not going to get involved in presidential politics,” Collins said Friday.
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A slew of Democratic politicians in the state — including House Speaker Sara Gideon, the favorite for the nomination to face Collins in a June primary — have declined to back a candidate ahead of a Democratic primary featuring six active candidates on Tuesday.
In a statement last week, Gideon said she was still making up her mind, adding that “the Democratic field of candidates all have good qualities and important goals,” and it was important for the party to defeat Trump in November.
For Republicans, however, Trump is the only Republican on the ballot in Maine. Collins vocally opposed Trump prior to the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post opinion piece that he was “unworthy of being our president.” She wrote in then-House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, for president instead that year.
Since Trump took office, the Maine Republican has voted with him 67 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight, the least of any current Republican senator. Collins’ supporters say this is a sign of an independent-minded senator. Her critics have argued that her breaks from her party have been largely inconsequential.
Collins joined Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona to down a Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017 but voted for the party’s tax bill later that year. She has voted to confirm 95 percent of the president’s judicial nominees, the Portland Press Herald reported earlier this year, a figure comparable to her record under previous administrations, but she has faced criticism from women’s health groups for backing some judges who have previously ruled against abortion rights.
In the president’s impeachment trial earlier this year, Collins sided with her party in opposing witnesses before both sides presented their cases, then broke ranks in a vote to call for witnesses after that before voting with most of her party to acquit Trump on both articles. Trump has praised Collins, saying in a December tweet he supports her re-election.
Four Democrats — Gideon, progressive lobbyist Betsy Sweet of Hallowell, former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse of Biddeford and lawyer Bre Kidman of Saco — are competing in a primary to face Collins later this year. Kidman and Sweet are supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary. LaJeunesse has also declined to back any candidate.
Several independents including Trump-supporting conservative Max Linn, former 2nd Congressional District candidate Tiffany Bond and former Green hopeful Lisa Savage are also trying to make the November ballot.