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Dianne Feinstein Isn't Sure She Wants Susan Collins to Lose

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  • Jason changed the title to Dianne Feinstein Isn't Sure She Wants Susan Collins to Lose

I was considering sharing POLITICO's article "Inside Susan Collins’ reelection fight in the age of Trump" today but never got around to it. But I guess it works now:



“No doubt that this is going to be a tough race,” Collins said. But “those who are eager to count me out … should take a look at [2008], where I had a truly, very worthy superior candidate.”


That’s a swipe at Gideon, an energetic 47-year-old mother of three who is eager to contrast Collins’ efficacy in the Trump era with her own role battling former Gov. Paul LePage and pushing progressive legislation. The race is already getting ugly.



Collins herself has no real relationship with the president, though she speaks with his daughter Ivanka Trump on topics like family leave and apprenticeships. More than anything, Collins resents the notion that she hasn’t stood up to the president.


“It’s never enough. Never. For those who truly hate the president, I’m never going to be able to do enough for them,” Collins said between bites of banh mi, which she frugally tucks into a to-go container before hurrying to a paper mill reopening. “I get tired of the ‘she speaks but doesn’t act.’”



Senate Democrats like working with Collins but would much rather have the majority. And to some, she’s in the way.


“This isn’t about Susan,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “You’ve got to make winning back the Senate a priority.”



“She has voted with her party more than she ever has before. And I think that is worth repeating and remembering,” Gideon said over coffee in left-leaning Portland. “Part of the whole aspect of Mainers feeling left behind by Sen. Collins is she can not decisively say where she is on an issue.”


Gideon asserts that Collins is no longer the senator she once was, after her support for Trump’s nominees, the tax cuts that endangered Obamacare and her lack of a firm stance on Trump’s reelection. No matter how you ask about Trump’s 2020 campaign, Collins answers the same: “Not going to go there.”


“There will come a time when she’s going to have to make decisions and really tell people where she stands,” Gideon said.


Where many Dems stand:



Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who endorsed Collins in 2014, won’t say whether he will do so again. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) endorsed Collins, earning himself an angry call from Schumer.


“I can’t believe everyone’s so damn hypocritical. She’s the one person I work with all the time,” Manchin said. “Why would you not expect me to do that?”


“Yes,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), when asked if she’s conflicted. “I’m very fond of her. I consider her a friend. I trust her. I believe she’s a good senator.”


For others, winning the majority is far more important than playing nice in the Senate’s shrinking center. Collins said she supports Mitch McConnell as GOP leader, which is all some colleagues need to hear.


“Any vote to put Mitch McConnell in the leader’s chair is a vote to stifle climate action, period, end of story. It’s pretty categorical,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).


And the two Maines:



Prosperous Southern Maine has tourists, Portland’s booming restaurant scene and big-city transplants. The feeling there: Collins is toast.


The rest of the state largely resides in the sprawling Second Congressional District. This is Trump Country with shuttered paper mills, endless forests and economic challenges. It’s also the heart of Collins’s support.


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