Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine sparked some national news stories Tuesday after her appearance on a Portland radio station in which she talked about the possibility of running for governor next year.
She says her comments are being misinterpreted and that she has made no decision on a run.
Collins says she has been urged to enter race for governor next year, and that she is weighing that possibility. But she says that doesn’t meant that she is leaning one way or the other.
“I simply don’t know what I am going to do,” she says. “I have not made a decision to run or a decision not to run.”
Collins says there are many factors to weigh, including the seniority that she has earned since first being elected to the Senate. At the time, she was 99th in seniority.
“I’m now 15th in seniority in the U.S. Senate. That’s pretty high up in seniority, and that allows me to do a lot for the people of Maine,” she says, including winning powerful positions on key committees.
Collins is the chair of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees transportation issues, and could move up to chair another subcommittee or a full committee depending on which senators may retire or are defeated in the next election.
On the other hand, Collins says there are issues that interest her at a state level, and ways that she could help the people here at home.
“Whether it is Augusta or Washington, our people seem to be very polarized, and I think I could help build bridges to both sides of the aisle,” she says.
Collins says she’s well aware of how things work in Augusta, having served in state government for five years as the commissioner of business and professional regulation.
In a statement released by her office, Collins says she didn’t expect to make a decision before fall. In her interview with Maine Public Radio, she gave no time frame.
“I have no timetable for making a decision,” she says. “I have not made a decision.”
Whatever Collins finally decides will have an effect on Maine politics. With a high approval rating, she would be the initial favorite to win the Republican nomination for governor, and Democrats worry that it will be difficult to field a candidate that can defeat her.