Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks during a hearing on COVID-19 on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. Credit: Alex Edelman/Pool via AP

President Donald Trump tore into U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in a Friday tweet, saying the vulnerable Republican whose race is crucial to control of the Senate was “not worth the work” over her stance against seating a new Supreme Court justice before the Nov. 3 election.

Collins is one of two Republicans who has spoken out against her party’s plan to seat a replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election, which is less than three weeks away. She announced that she would not back a nominee before Trump picked conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy.

The criticism comes as the Maine senator is in the political fight of her life against House Speaker Sara Gideon, a Democrat who has led her in every independent public poll this year and raised a staggering $39.4 million in the last three months. That dwarfed Collins’ $8.3 million haul in a targeted race that has seen more than $130 million in spending to date.

Trump has hammered many Republicans since assuming office in 2016, but he has largely left Collins alone, including when she thwarted the party’s bids to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He celebrated her in 2018 when she voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a move that put her race on the national radar.

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But the president has struck a negative tone over her position on Trump’s new nominee, even though Republicans are poised to confirm Barrett without Collins’ support. She has said it is too close to the presidential election to seat a new judge and noted that Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama’s final high court pick ahead of the 2016 election.

In Trump’s Friday tweet, he noted her health care vote while saying there was a “nasty rumor” that Collins would oppose Barrett. After endorsing her late last year, he implied on Friday that her re-election was not a priority of his, saying she was “not worth the work.”

“I think she’ll really be hurt badly in two years,” he said in a September interview with Fox News of the 2022 re-election of Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who also opposes the nomination, “and I think that Susan Collins is going to be hurt very badly.”

However, Collins has consistently run well ahead of Trump in the Democratic-leaning state. Trump has trailed former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, by at least 10 percentage points statewide in recent polling, while Collins has trailed Gideon by an average of roughly 4 points.

She has also not suffered terribly with Republican voters. A Bangor Daily News poll released last week showed 81 percent of Republicans backing her, a slightly higher share than Gideon was pulling within her party. It also showed Collins’ move on the Supreme Court is not changing things much, with 21 percent of voters more likely to back her because of it, 52 percent saying it had no effect and another 21 percent saying they were less likely to back her.

“Senator Collins works with this President — like she does with all Presidents — when she thinks he’s right, and she opposes him when she thinks he’s wrong,” Collins’ spokesperson Annie Clark said in a statement. “It’s what she’s always done, and it’s what she’ll continue to do.”

Collins was asked about her opposition to confirming a nominee in Thursday’s U.S. Senate debate on Maine Public, and reiterated that she thinks confirming a justice would be unfair because of Republicans’ 2016 move, saying her decision was not about politics.

“It’s clearly not a political calculation since it does not make a lot of people happy,” Collins said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has backed Collins in her reelection campaign, said in a statement through a spokesperson that he and the Maine senator didn’t “always agree.”

“But she is a courageous and independent Senator who always does what she thinks is right for the people of Maine,” McConnell said.

BDN writer Jessica Piper contributed to this report.

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Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...