WASHINGTON — Only catastrophic illness could prevent her from running for re-election, Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said this week.
“If I developed a serious illness, if my husband did, if something like that – something catastrophic happened to me or another member of my family – then obviously I would reconsider,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press in her Washington office. “But absent that, I certainly intend to run again.”
Collins, 60, is New England’s only Republican in Congress up for re-election in 2014.
Her moderate politics are sometimes out of step with an increasingly conservative national GOP, but Washington Republicans want her to seek a fourth term. Preserving Collins’ seat is important for Republicans’ push to win the Senate majority.
Early polls suggest she is well liked among Maine voters in both parties.
But so was another Maine moderate Republican, former Sen. Olympia Snowe, who shocked the political world last year by abruptly announcing her retirement. The decision ultimately cost Republicans a Senate seat. Independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with Democrats, was elected in her place.
But Collins said she won’t follow Snowe’s lead.
She noted that a recent Democratic poll gave her one of the highest approval ratings for a sitting senator in the nation.
“I think that indicates that my constituents, while they may not always agree with every vote, they support the work I’m doing,” she said.
Democrats face an uphill battle as they look to hold their Senate majority in 2014 and prevent Republicans from gaining full control of Congress during President Barack Obama’s final two years.
Democrats are defending a hefty 21 seats, compared with 14 for Republicans.
Republicans need to pick up six seats next year to take control of the Senate for the first time since 2006. On paper, Collins should offer Democrats their best chance to win a Republican-held Senate seat. Of all the Republican senators up for re-election in 2014, only Collins serves in a state Obama carried last fall.
But serious challengers have yet to emerge.
Collins said she has already begun to raise money for her 2014 re-election bid. She held her first Washington fundraiser last week.
At the end of last year, Collins reported more than $920,000 in her campaign account. She spent roughly $8 million in her 2008 contest against former Maine Rep. Tom Allen, a Democrat.