Embattled Susan Collins finds herself in a ‘uniquely difficult’ position as Trump impeachment gets underway: report
If any Republican U.S. Senator would have been much better off had Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election, it’s Sen. Susan Collins. Trumpism has put the Maine Republican between a rock and a hard place, with allies of President Donald Trump demanding her support while Democrats complain that she is too supportive of the president — and an article by journalist Rachel Ohm for the Portland Press Herald in Maine describes the “uniquely difficult” position that Collins finds herself in as Trump’s impeachment trial gets underway.
“The situation is a no-win for Collins, who risks fanning the flames of criticism from Democrats with a vote to acquit the president, while a vote to convict would expose her to furious attacks from Trump and her own party as she seeks re-election,” Ohm reports.
For Collins, one possible middle ground in Trump’s impeachment trial is to vote to allow witnesses but ultimately, vote “not guilty” on the two articles of impeachment that Trump is being tried for. Sandy Maisel, a professor of U.S. government at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, told the Portland Press Herald, “This is a vote that will test her…. She may vote to allow witnesses and then, vote not to (convict). She has to think about whether splitting that vote will alienate people or please people.”
When President Bill Clinton faced an impeachment trial in the late 1990s, Collins called for more witnesses and more evidence to be presented. Stewart Boss, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, asserted that Collins was much more forthcoming during Clinton’s impeachment.
“Instead of using her platform like she did 20 years ago to call for a full accounting of the evidence,” Boss explained, “Sen. Collins is parsing her every public statement to try to protect her political career without actually taking a stand against (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell’s sham process.”
According to Brian Duff (associate professor of political science at the University of New England), Collins finds herself in a “uniquely difficult” position: she is now the only Republican serving in the U.S. Senate via a New England state. None of the other New England states, from Massachusetts to Vermont to Rhode Island, presently have a Republican U.S. senator.
Collins, who was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996, is seeking a fifth term in 2020. Although Collins was very popular in Maine in the past — she was reelected by 17% in 2002, 23% in 2008 and 38% in 2014 — she is considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the Senate in 2020. And Democrats are excited over the possibility of Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (who is seeking the Democratic senatorial nomination in her state) going up against Collins in November.