Sen. Susan Collins, R-M.E., once had the safest seat in the Senate, winning her last bid for reelection by nearly 40 points.
Now, she’s locked in the fight of her political life — and polls show she’s in real danger of being booted in November.[Sponsored] Regrow a FULL Head of Hair Starting in 30 Days? [pics]
So she’s attempting a risky strategy that could backfire – not only ending with her out of office, but also costing the Republican Party control over the Senate in the process.
And it comes down to her increasingly desperate attempts to distance herself from President Donald Trump.
In 2016, Collins famously said she wouldn’t vote for Trump or Hillary Clinton.
This time around, she’s pretty much refusing to take any kind of stand at all. She won’t endorse Trump, but won’t reject him either.
“I have a difficult race,” she told CNN. “And I am concentrating my efforts on that race.”
Collins has tried to walk the line of not supporting some of Trump’s more bombastic statements and Twitter comments while still voting loyally for the GOP agenda in the Senate.
She’s trying to play to her reputation as an independent-minded lawmaker not beholden to either party, which goes over well in New England.
The Senate has only two independent members and both – Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont – are from the region (although both caucus with the Democrats).
But Collins’ approach has had the practical effect not of independence, but of angering both sides.
Republicans widely support President Donald Trump across the country; the most recent Gallup poll puts his support at 91 percent among the Republicans. Collins’ attempt to distance herself from him alienates that Republican base in her home state.
Her refusal to endorse him, on the other hand, is not seen as a concession by the left. They were never going to support Collins anyway.
The result? She now has an approval rating of just 36 percent in Maine.[Sposnored] Healthier Blood Pressure Starting in Just 8 Hours
And that could mean her time in the Senate is coming to an end… and possibly the Republicans’ majority in the chamber along with it.
The Democrats are expected to lose one seat this year, as Sen. Doug Jones, D-Al. has almost no chance of reelection in deep-red Alabama.
That means they’d need to flip four Republican seats to regain control of the chamber if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the presidency (his vice president would break a tie), and five if Trump wins reelection.
That may seem like a tall order, and it is — the nonpartisan Cook Political Report is now projecting that the Democrats will take control, saying the party has “multiple plausible paths for them to a majority.”
They seem to be headed for wins, for example, in both Colorado and Arizona, and there are tight races in North Carolina, Montana, Iowa and Georgia.
But most paths for a Democratic-controlled Senate run through Maine, where Sara Gideon, the Democratic speaker of Maine’s House of Representatives, holds an average 2.5-point lead over Collins, according to RealClearPolitics.
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And as time goes on, the numbers for Collins only get worse: The most recent poll of the state has her down by 4.5.
Gideon also won the fundraising race for the second quarter, taking in more than $9 million, compared to $3.6 million for Collins.
But the Cook Political Report says don’t count Collins out quite yet.
“This is a race some Republicans are feeling privately better about, but others know she’s still vulnerable,” the website said.
There’s still time for her to change the race. But with barely 100 days until the election, time is running out.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert, and is the author of “America’s Final Warning.”