Aroostook County Republicans have “vigorously condemned” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins over her vote to convict Donald Trump during his impeachment trial last month.
That comes ahead of the Maine Republican Party’s Saturday meeting, when Collins could face a further rebuke for her Feb. 13 vote at the conclusion of the Senate impeachment trial.
Collins, a Caribou native, was one of seven senators to vote to convict Trump. It was the first time she voted to convict a president during an impeachment trial, voting to acquit Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1999 and Republican Trump in 2020.
Since then, Republicans who voted to convict have faced a backlash from state parties. Only Collins and U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah have yet to be censured by state parties for their votes.
The censure resolution, signed by 19 members of the county committee and other Republicans from the crown of Maine and passed on March 20, accused Collins of “undermin[ing] the conservative and ethical values” of Aroostook Republicans and blasted the “illegal, unethical, unconstitutional” impeachment over the former president’s role in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Beside criticizing Collins for her Feb. 13 vote, the resolution repeats unsubstantiated claims about “tampered” evidence and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, that multiple media outlets have debunked.
The state party issued no statement after the senator’s vote, but Maine Republican Party Chair Demi Kouzounas told party members in an email after the trial concluded that “many of you are upset after what happened today as are we” and “to be prepared for an emergency state committee meeting in the near future” to discuss the Collins matter.
“We want to hold them accountable,” Aroostook County Committee Chair John DeVeau said in a Wednesday night statement, referring to the Maine Republican Party. “Nobody has taken any actions to hold [Collins] accountable for her decision, and many of us in the party feel like we’re being disenfranchised. Some are even talking about leaving.”
DeVeau served for one term in the Maine House, where he represented District 149. He lost a 2020 primary challenge from Susan Bernard, who captured 75 percent of the vote and went on to win in the November general election.
It’s far from clear whether the state party will act against Collins. Its criticism of Collins has been muted, and Kennebec County Republicans voted against censuring her earlier this month.
Collins on Thursday defended her vote to convict Trump as “impartial justice,” saying she made her vote “based on my duty to uphold the Constitution” and not on partisan politics.
“I have cast three votes on presidential impeachments; each time I voted based on the Constitution, the evidence, and my conscience — not my party affiliation,” she said in a statement to the BDN.
That defense echoed earlier remarks she made in a letter to the Maine Republican Party Executive Committee last month.
In that letter, Collins did not directly criticize state party officials for their criticism of her vote or the moves toward censure. Instead, Collins urged the party to improve its electoral performance.
Collins noted that she won reelection to a historic fifth term last November while splitting the ticket with Maine’s presidential results, leaving her the only New England Republican to hold federal office.
“I hope that we are able to work together to improve our electoral results. Now would be a good time for us to consider how we can improve our performance in the 2022 and 2024 cycles,” she said.