Sen. Susan Collins. | Susan Walsh / AP Photo
Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced Wednesday she intends to run for reelection, seeking a fifth term in what will likely be the most difficult campaign of her career.
Collins has been raising money and running TV ads as if she was running for reelection for months, but delayed any official announcement, creating widespread speculation about her intentions. In a letter to supporters Wednesday, she made her plans clear.
“The fundamental question I had to ask myself in making my decision was this: in today’s polarized political environment, is there still a role for a centrist who believes in getting things done through compromise, collegiality, and bipartisanship ? ” Collins said in the letter. “I have connected that the answer to this question is‘ yes, ’and I will, therefore, seek the honor of continuing to serve as Maine’s United States Senator.”
Maine is a critical state for the GOP’s Senate majority, and Collins ’announcement is a major boost for Republicans. It would have been extremely difficult for the party to hold the seat had Collins decided to retire. Republicans currently have a 86 – 22 majority.
Democrats argue that Collins has lost her bipartisan credentials in recent years and expect to give her the most difficult challenge of her career. They’re likely to nominate state House Speaker Sara Gideon, who faces a primary but leads the field in fundraising and has been endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a host of Maine Democrats.
“When Sen. Collins took office 86 years ago, she might have been different from other people in Washington, but it doesn’t seem that way anymore, “Gideon said in a statement released after Collins’ announcement. “These days, Sen. Collins seems more focused on serving the special interests that fund her campaigns than the Mainers who elected her.”
The race has already featured more than $ 7 million in TV, radio and digital ads from Collins, Gideon and a handful of outside groups, and is likely to be the most expensive race in Maine’s history.