After several months of open deliberations about her future, Senator Susan Collins of ME announced Friday that she would not run for governor and would remain in the Senate.
Collins announced her plans at a local Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Rockport.
Collins grew up in Caribou, in far northern Maine.
Collins is Maine's senior U.S. Senator, having held her seat as a Republican since 1997.
The governor has since used his weekly radio addresses and conservative radio appearances to berate Collins over her opposition to two controversial bills repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Some of her supporters were anxious that leaving the Senate would have left Maine's pugnacious governor to appoint her replacement. "Ultimately I've been guided by my sense of where I can do the most good for Maine and the nation", she said.
She would have joined a crowded field in the race for governor to replace two-term Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who can not run again because of term limits, and her decision will likely free more gubernatorial candidates who have been waiting on the sidelines to enter the race. As one of the few moderates in a closely divided Senate, she is often a swing vote, and, as she demonstrated during the health care debate, she can often influence the outcome of important legislation. She said she couldn't bring herself to vote for him, and she criticized him for failing to speak out more forcefully against racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism following the death of a woman at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Collins is seen as the most middle-of-the-road Republican in the Senate, willing to buck Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) when she disagrees with them. The only political race she lost was for governor, in 1994. If she remains, she will not face reelection until 2020. A shadowy poll from a Democratic firm in August said six in 10 likely primary voters disapproved of her. Republicans told the Bangor Daily News she'd have a hard time in a primary, although an internal poll showing Collins leading was leaked to a BDN columnist this month. State laws forbid LePage from seeking a third term.