Maine Gov. Paul LePage laced into fellow Republican Susan Collins on Thursday, saying the U.S. senator “is done in Maine” for failing to back Donald Trump in his successful bid for the White House.
LePage, who endorsed Trump as his third choice among Republican candidates, also accused Collins of planning to pursue a position in the Democratic administration of Hillary Clinton if she had won the election.
In August, Collins announced in a column published by The Washington Post that she couldn’t support Trump, but she also was unequivocal about not backing Clinton, a former Senate colleague.
“I think Susan Collins is done in Maine, I think her decision to go against the Maine Republicans really cooked her goose,” LePage said on WGAN radio, responding to a question about whether Collins would run for governor once LePage’s term ends.
“I think she was looking to get into the Clinton administration, I really believe that. Some of her moves to come out against Donald Trump are not going to bode well,” LePage said. “If you look at all the U.S. senators that went against Donald Trump, they lost their re-election.”
Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark responded in a text message that “(Collins’) goose not only hasn’t been cooked, it hasn’t even been plucked yet.”
“In fact, her goose is alive and healthy and looking forward to many more years of service to Maine,” Clark said.
She rejected the assertion that Collins would have been interested in joining Clinton’s administration.
“During the course of the raucous presidential campaign, Senator Collins repeatedly described Hillary as a flawed candidate and made it clear that she could not support her,” Clark said.
She said Collins had no expectation that either candidate would ask her to serve in his or her Cabinet, and she would not have accepted a position if one had been offered.
Among Maine’s top political figures, Collins has some of the state’s highest voter approval ratings. However, her popularity among Republicans declined markedly after the Aug. 8 column opposing Trump. In a June poll conducted for the Portland Press Herald by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, 74 percent of the likely Maine Republican voters surveyed viewed Collins favorably and just 18 percent saw her unfavorably. But a subsequent newspaper poll conducted in October indicated Collins’ favorability among Republican voters had declined to 61 percent, and 29 percent of respondents viewed her unfavorably.
Earlier in Thursday’s radio show, LePage also took a shot at Maine’s other U.S. senator, independent Angus King, and reiterated that he may challenge King in 2018.
“The only reason I would run against Angus King is I believe he’s had a free ride with the people of Maine, despite the fact he’s really not a Mainer, he’s from the state of Virginia,” LePage said. “So if he runs for the U.S. Senate there is a high likelihood I would run.”
LePage said he believes King is contemplating a run for governor, too. King previously served two consecutive terms as governor and has never publicly indicated he would attempt a return to the Blaine House.
“I think if you asked most people in Maine, they’d say three successful statewide elections isn’t a free pass,” King spokesman Scott Ogden said, “and while Sen. King has only been in Maine for 47 years, he has long said he would have preferred to be born in the state, but unfortunately he didn’t have much say in the matter and he loves his mother too much to cast blame.
“Sen. King will run for re-election to the Senate in 2018,” Ogden said, “but for now, he is focused on working with President-elect Trump and his colleagues in Congress to improve the lives of Mainers and strengthen the country.”