In this image from video, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks after the Senate acquitted former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. The senator was one of seven Republicans to vote to convict Trump, prompting condemnation from the Maine Republican Party. Credit: AP

The Maine Republican Party will meet in March to consider censuring U.S. Sen. Susan Collins after grassroots outcry over her vote to convict former President Donald Trump on an impeachment charge related to his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Maine GOP Chair Demi Kouzounas called the special March 13 state committee meeting in a Wednesday email to members, saying the purpose will be to discuss Collins’ vote and “possible action from this committee” related to it. There was no indication any formal language had been prepared.

It comes after the state party and Collins exchanged open letters on the senator’s vote last week. In their letter, 38 party officials including Kouzounas said grassroots conservatives were “almost universally outraged” by her vote alongside just six other Republicans to convict Trump, who was acquitted in a Senate trial that required 17 Republicans to back conviction.

Collins shot back by defending the vote as “impartial justice” for Trump, saying this vote and another to acquit the former president during his first impeachment trial in 2020 were based on “the Constitution and the evidence before me” and not “party or any other external factor,” reminding them of her electoral success at a time when the party is out of power in Maine.

“I think that we need to send a message that you can be a good Republican and not necessarily agree with every position taken by the party,” the fifth-term senator told News Center Maine last week.

The special meeting set for next month is a sign that the conservative base that has largely overtaken the state party since the 2010 election is not assuaged by the letters. County party chairs said they were deluged by negative reactions to the vote.

Almost immediately after Collins’ vote, members of the Republican state committee began gathering signatures to hold the special meeting that Kouzounas called on Wednesday. Two days after the vote, Kennebec County Chair Helen Tutwiler said the requisite number of signatures had been collected.

The party could pass a more formal censure of Collins at the meeting, but it will have no more practical effect than the letter. State law — not the party itself — governs membership and the senator has never publicly entertained the idea of leaving the Republican Party.

BDN writer Caitlin Andrews contributed to this report.

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...