Speculation about Sen. Susan Collins's future has swirled for months.

By Claire Zillman
October 13, 2017

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, has finally made up her mind on whether or not to run for Maine governor. She announced on Friday that she will not enter the gubernatorial race, stating that “the best way I can contribute…is to remain a member of the U.S. Senate.”

Collins announced her decision at a local Chamber of Commerce event in Maine, according to a transcript released by her office.

For months, speculation has swirled about Collins’s political future. Her decision on the Maine governor’s race was closely watched given her role as one of the few moderate Republicans in the Senate, where the GOP has a slim 52-seat majority. Her centrist stances have set her apart from Republican colleagues on recent, high-profile legislative matters. She—along with fellow Republican Senators John McCain (Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Rand Paul (Ky.)—killed the GOP’s effort in September to repeal and replace Obamacare. She and Murkowski were also the only two Republican senators to oppose the (ultimately successful) nomination of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Her centrist stances have set her apart from Republican colleagues on recent, high-profile legislative matters. She — along with fellow Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Rand Paul (Ky.) — killed the GOP’s effort in September to repeal and replace Obamacare. She and Murkowski were also the only two Republican senators to oppose the (ultimately successful) nomination of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

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“Now let me address the elephant in the room (pun intended.),” Collins said on Friday. “I am touched that many of our residents believe that I could provide our state with thoughtful and effective leadership, particularly in providing greater economic opportunities and more jobs throughout our state.” She said that, as a “congenital optimist,” she continues to believe that Congress can and will be more productive.

“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,” Collins said. “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.”

Collins, who was first elected to the Senate in 1996, acknowledged that the sway she holds as a moderate Republican factored into her decision. In her speech on Friday, she recalled the words of a fellow senator who urged her to stay: “’The institution would suffer in your absence. While the temptation might be to walk away and leave the problems to others, there are very few who have the ability to bring about positive change. You are such a person.’”

“As I thought about this senator’s words,” Collins said on Friday. “I realized how much remains to be done in a divided and troubled Washington if we are to serve the people of our states. I have demonstrated the ability to work across the aisle, to build coalitions, and to listen to the people of my state and my country.”

Collins was an especially fierce critic of President Donald Trump ahead of his election. In a Washington Post op-ed in August 2016, she vowed not to vote for her party’s nominee, stating that Trump did not “reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country.”

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