Collins rules out ME governor's bid, will stay in Senate

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U.S. Senator Susan Collins of ME, a moderate Republican who helped block her party's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act this year, said she planned to remain in her current office rather than run for governor.

But Friday, McConnell says Collins' decision to pass on a gubernatorial run is a good one. As one of the few moderates in a closely divided Senate, she is often a swing vote, and, as she demonstrated during the health care debate, she can often influence the outcome of important legislation.

Collins told a group of business leaders in Rockland, on Maine's midcoast, that she believed she could accomplish more for the state in her current role.

Notwithstanding the fact that numerous reports indicated that there were elements of becoming Governor of ME that appealed to her, it's not entirely surprising that Collins made a decision to stay in the Senate and to seek re-election. She said she was "forever grateful" for her increasing support from ME residents. As such, some of her Democratic colleagues went public with their hopes that she wouldn't make the jump back into state-level politics, like North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp. She ran for governor in 1994, losing to King.

Collins and LePage mark out the two poles of the state's Republican party, with the senator routinely working with Democrats in Washington while the governor has regularly fought with his rivals in the state capital Augusta.

Collins has been in the Senate since 1996 and is in her fourth six-year term.

She would have joined a crowded field in the race for governor to replace two-term Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who can not 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.

Independents are a powerful force in ME politics, with Collins' Senate counterpart, Angus King, one of only two independents in the chamber. Since Mr. Trump became president, she has voted less often with her party than any other Republican senator.

The 64-year-old Collins plans to announce her decision on Friday at an event in Rockport.

Maine's Governor's office is next up for election in 2018, and a run for that office would have actually been Collins's second attempt at the job.

"And I have concluded that the best way that I can contribute to these priorities is to remain a member of the United States Senate", she added.

Collins also criticized President Donald Trump's move this week to end cost-sharing reduction payments to health insurers, one of the subsidies that helps tamp down premiums for Americans buying their health insurance on the individual market.