U.S. Sen. Susan Collins speaks during a Friday appearance at the Penobscot Snowmobile Club in Hermon. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The BDN Opinion section operates independently and does not set newsroom policies or contribute to reporting or editing articles elsewhere in the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.

Tim Plouff of Otis writes about cars, boats and energy.

As one of the most influential women in Washington, Maine’s senior U.S. senator is running for another term to represent all Mainers and our interests. Widely considered the most moderate senator, Susan Collins has earned the respect and honor of her peers as the most bipartisan U.S. senator for seven straight years, a distinction vitally important to Maine’s electorate.

From her early roles in government, including a stint as Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation commissioner, where she served a key role in resolving the state’s 1991 shutdown over worker compensation rules that were strangling Maine businesses, to her position of strength in today’s hyperpartisan Senate, Collins has worked for Maine people.

As Maine’s senior senator, as well as the most senior Republican female U.S. senator, Collins chairs the Senate Aging Committee, an important appointment for the oldest state in the nation. Collins is also a senior member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, where she chairs the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee.

Why would we want to sacrifice these influential leadership roles for a novice junior senator? Losing Collins’ voice, and vote, could have a devastating impact on Maine’s elder population and other important congressional appropriations for Kittery, Bath and other large Maine employers.

Collins has cast more than 7,000 consecutive roll-call votes, never missing a Senate vote in her career. None of her peers has come close to matching her record, a testament to her sense of responsibility of her role representing us.

Yes, Collins has often frustrated conservatives with her votes. She has often frustrated Democrats and independents, too. By steadfastly working to defend her vow to the Constitution, and not bending to the latest media polls or waffling public support from places that don’t have Maine ZIP codes, her vote is often vital for important legislation and not an automatic political check-off.

Collins’ bipartisan efforts had generated broad support for former President Barack Obama’s agenda, often voting with him more often than she did with either President George W. Bush or with President Donald Trump. Collins voted against impeachment of both President Bill Clinton and Trump, claiming that neither conducted acts that rose to the level of removal from elected office.

Collins has also deferred to each president’s Supreme Court nominees, stating that every president has the right to select jurors that they deem fit. It is said that wisdom exists not in adherence to values, but in recognizing their limits.

While common sense is currently in short supply, Maine needs a pragmatic senator willing to carefully weigh the issues and make thoughtful, reasoned judgments that will protect and benefit all voters. A very wise Mainer, Justice William S. Silsby, was fond of saying, “the only perfect candidate is yourself. Since you’re not on the ballot, make a better choice.”

Real leaders don’t achieve success by being perfect. They learn from their mistakes in order to achieve excellence. Collins has proven to be much more than a Republican senator. She is our senator, representing all Mainers. This Maine-born, Maine-bred Aroostook County girl is the only true leader in this year’s Senate election and deserves our support to return to Washington as our senator. Too much is at stake to do otherwise.