In a much-anticipated announcement regarding her home state's governor race, Maine Sen. Susan Collins said she's staying in the U.S. Senate.
Saying she believes she can do more good for Mainers by staying in the U.S. Senate, the 64-year-old Collins announced her decision on Friday at an event in Rockport.
"I am a congenital optimist, and I continue to believe that Congress can — and will — be more productive," she said. "I want to continue to play a key role in advancing policies that strengthen our economy, help our hard-working families, improve our health care system, and bring peace and stability to a violent and troubled world."
With the announcement, Collins received a standing ovation.
She said she knew if she left the Senate, it would change the balance and potential for bipartisanship in Congress.
"I realized how much needs to be done in a divided, troubled Washington," Collins said.
The moderate Republican was first elected in 1996 and has played a pivotal role in the Senate in recent debates about health care policy. She said she was "forever grateful" for her increasing support from Maine residents.
She would have joined a crowded field in the race for governor to replace two-term Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who cannot run again because of term limits, and her decision will likely free more gubernatorial candidates who have been waiting on the sidelines to enter the race. The election to replace him is in 2018.
LePage is an ally of President Donald Trump, whom Collins has publicly criticized in the past. She had also said she'd like to heal the state and "bring people back together."
Collins has made headlines during GOP-led efforts to repeal and replace the health care law commonly called Obamacare for voting against her party's stance.
"I'm often a bridge between the two sides of the aisle and there have been times when I have been able to make a difference," Collins said.