Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks Wednesday during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Credit: Alex Edelman / AP

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Kathleen Dillingham of Oxford is the Maine House Republican Leader.

I am supporting Sen. Susan Collins for reelection to the U.S. Senate. The senator is a Republican who embodies the true spirit of Maine independence.

Ironically, our senator has been attacked by some for not supporting the president enough, while at the same time attacked by the far left for supporting the president too much. With both extremes so passionate in their attacks on Collins, one can correctly surmise that she falls clearly and independently in the middle. She is annually rated the most bipartisan senator.

I may not always agree with the senator and all the votes she has cast, just as I imagine she does not always agree with me and the votes I have cast. That should be expected, but in today’s society, there is little tolerance for those with a differing opinion, and that is a shame. We should be holding up our independent thinkers as the standard instead of trying to tear them down with mischaracterizations and outright falsities.

In 2019, the senator invited me to be her guest at the U.S. Capitol for the president’s State of the Union address. It was definitely a highlight in the life of this girl from Oxford. While the entire evening was amazing, what I truly took away most is just how respected our senator is.

I had the opportunity to attend the senatorial dinner prior to the speech. Walking beside Collins, I saw so many faces I recognized from news and press coverage of the U.S. Senate over the years. I sat for dinner at a table with Republican and Democratic senators. As I sat and listened to their conversations about their children, their families and everyday normal conversations, I remember thinking that this was no different than sitting at dinner in Augusta.

The senator and I talked about growing up picking vegetables and haying, things that those of us who grew up in rural Maine would have in common. Members of both parties told me how they enjoy working with Collins. Members of both parties brought their guests over to the table to introduce them to our senator. One Democratic senator looked at me squarely and stated that Collins needed to be reelected. That is a testament to the type of individual our senator is — a woman of true integrity and stalwart in her support of Mainers.

These folks who work and serve with our senator every day, who belong to a different party, could see the value in having a colleague that they know is fair and independent-minded. A characteristic that has been present her entire political career. I believe they quietly still believe this to be true of our senator even while their leadership and out-of-state billionaires have launched the vilest campaign Maine has ever seen against Collins in support of her opponent.

I admire Collins’ strength to stand against the tide of hate, aggression and incessant dirty campaign ads against her. I admire her hard work and dedication to the people of Maine and never having missed a vote in her representation of us. I admire her willingness to reach across the aisle to create policies, to achieve meaningful and real bipartisan support in the best interest of our state and country. I admire her diligence in researching legislation and issues to ensure she is never blindly casting a vote and never needs talking points given to her before being able to voice her opinion.

Our senator clearly demonstrates every day that she is truly independent-minded. She is a strong and intelligent Maine woman, and if I could be considered half the lawmaker she has been, I would have accomplished much in my political career.

I am honored to be able to endorse and support Susan Collins for reelection.

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