Between the midterm elections and the threats to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion, there’s a lot on Sen. Susan Collins’ mind. But one thing the Republican from Maine is not worried about is winning re-election in 2020.
“I’ll worry about 2020 in 2020,” Collins said Friday. “I think it’s a little early for me to make a decision on re-election.”
The morning after nationwide protests to protect Mueller’s investigation, Collins said she supports a bill to protect the special counsel. She plans to join a group of senators, asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to have a debate on the Senate floor.
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“I know the president is never going to sign that bill into law and there are some legitimate constitutional issues, but debating it and passing it would send a strong message to the president that the special counsel’s work must be allowed to continue unimpeded,” Collins said.
For activist groups critical of Collins, the concern for Mueller comes late.
“After about a year of asking for that bill to be brought to a floor vote, I am grateful Sen. Collins is willing to take action,” said Marie Follayttar, director of the group Mainers For Accountable Leadership. The group has organized many protests targeting Collins in the last two years, and helped raise millions of dollars to fund her future opponent due to Collins’ vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
“We are heartbroken about the loss of the moderate Sen. Collins,” said Follayttar. “She needs to be concerned about her chances for re-election.”
But Collins remains confident she would win re-election if she chooses to run again.
“I'm very proud of the fact that the people of Maine have supported me very strongly,” she said. “I can assure you that I have already started preparing and I certainly will be ready should I decide to run.”
A new challenge she would have to face is ranked choice voting (RCV), a system Mainers approved in 2016, which allows voters to rank their preferences instead of choosing one candidate. While RCV was not implemented for statewide races like the governor’s race, it does apply to federal elections. If no candidate achieves 50 percent of the vote, instant run-offs calculating voters’ second-place choices will be taken into account to determine the winner.
“The issue with ranked choice voting is that it can result in the person who receives the most votes not being selected to represent the people of Maine, so that is an odd outcome to me,” said Collins. She added that she believes she could achieve the 50 percent threshold to win in the first round under RCV.