As much as Republicans posture themselves as being tough and independent, they tend to fall in line when it comes down to the wire. That’s the old joke that we’ve seen play out time and again. On rare occasion, we’ve seen Senator Susan Collins assert herself as a moderate and do the right thing. That is, she’ll do what she thinks will help her politically in a moderate state like Maine. Every so often, she has to prove that she’s still loyal to the GOP, however, and she knows she needs to carry at least a few Trumpers back home if she wants to win reelection in 2020 – a year when Republicans have to play defense in 22 states.
Collins earned the resentment of many, and a new Democratic challenger in 2020, after she cast the determining vote for Brett Kavanaugh last fall. However, voting for Kavanaugh, who was already polling poorly with most voters, didn’t seem to do her many favors with her own side either. She now has two Republican challengers – both challenging her from the right and echoing Donald Trump’s phony populist message. She’ll probably win the nomination without much trouble – especially since her latest challenger, Derrick Levasseur, is a right-wing blogger with a history of alleged domestic violence.
Unfortunately, for Susan Collins, the primary will be a Pyrrhic victory at best. She’s won her last three terms by passing herself off as a moderate and supporter of women’s rights in a fairly blue state – and she’ll have a hard time being vocal about all that this time around, if she’s to pivot to the right and alienate the average voter.
Collins has the advantage of being an incumbent politician, but it was worth less than three points on average for senators in last year’s midterm elections, and she can’t readily fall back on that as a safety net. Presently, she’s the only Republican in Congress from the New England region, and could be the last one for some time. The lesson here is that Donald Trump’s boom for the GOP is coming to an end, whether or not his party knows it. He’s bringing them all down with him, whether they support him or not.
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and an advocate of science-based policy making