If any sitting Republican Senator can be persuaded to abandon the party to stand up to Trump, it is Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Here’s why:
- She is out of step with her party. As the GOP has become more and more extreme in its views, it has left Sen. Collins behind. She is now the most liberal Republican in the Senate.
- She is out of step with her region. As of January 2017, she will be the sole remaining Republican Senator from New England, and one of only two from the northeast.
- She is out of step with her state. Though it’s second district went for Trump in 2016, Maine as a whole has voted for the Democratic candidate for President since 1992.
- Mainers love Independents. The state of Maine has a strong tradition of electing and respecting Independent politicians, such as her colleague Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats.
- Mainers LOVE Collins. She is the 2nd most popular member of the Senate. Mainers will surely continue to love her if she takes a bold, principled stand against Trump.
- She has already strongly rejected Trump. She took a brave stand to reject Trump in August, and in the end was one of only a few sitting Republican Senators who rejected Trump. Any Mainers whose support she might lose by switching parties were likely already lost when she rejected Trump. Paul LePage certainly thinks so.
- She is against the right wing Trump/Ryan policy agenda. With the possible exception of tax cuts, her voting record suggests that she will not want to vote for the extreme right wing bills that her party is likely to put forward under single party control.
- She cares about her legacy. While she likes to see herself as a pragmatic bipartisan dealmaker, she certainly does not want to be seen by history as a Trump-appeaser or enabler, should some of our darker fears about his administration come to pass.