A common question lately for Senator Susan Collins, one of the most moderate Republicans remaining in Congress (and the country’s second-most-popular senator), has been whether she will back Donald Trump for president.
Collins came close to answering in an interview with Politico yesterday.
“He’s very close to wrapping it up… I think it is likely that he is going to be the nominee,” she said. “I’ve always supported the Republican nominee, and I don’t think this year will be different. But I’m going to wait and see what happens at the convention.”
That seems pretty clear-cut. But I’m actually not sure why this is much of a question in the first place. Collins has consistently backed other Republicans just as odious, or even more so, than Trump.
In addition to supporting and fundraising for Governor Paul LePage, she has explicitly and repeatedly backed extreme figures like State Representative Larry Lockman. Even after his long history of tax evasion and incendiary comments on women, rape, AIDS and gays and lesbians came to light, she gave a maximum contribution to his campaign and announced he would serve as a town chair for her re-election.
She even provided a photo and endorsement for him to send to voters:
That’s because Collins is, much more than Olympia Snowe was, a Republican team player. She may hold different opinions from the majority of her party on a subset of issues, but she is still dedicated to party building. This is clear from her votes, which rarely deviate from the party line at the most crucial points, and from her campaign activities for Republicans up and down the ticket.
That’s not to say that she’s always proud of these associations. Last December, when I wrote about how Republicans were standing by Rep. Jeff Pierce, the latest in a string of Maine GOP state legislators to make bigoted and racist comments on social media, I used a photo of Pierce standing with Collins and LePage to illustrate the post. A member of Collins’ staff called the Bangor Daily News to complain and the newspaper asked me to remove the photo. We eventually came to a compromise where it was replaced as the featured image but remained on the page.
From these past practices, we can likely assume both that Senator Collins will back Trump and that she will continue to downplay her support in public and with the media. If you’re a swing voter in the Second District though, don’t be surprised if you receive a mailer this November with a Trump logo and a smiling photo of Maine’s senior senator.