Sen. Susan Collins said she has forwarded the names of two candidates for the U.S. attorney job in Maine to the Trump administration.

Collins declined to identify the two, but said “they are both highly qualified, in my view.”

Collins said she assumes that the Trump White House will follow past practice and nominate a candidate suggested by the state’s senior senator who is a member of the president’s party.

“I certainly hope so,” Collins said. “We’ve been given that impression, but I don’t know for sure.”

Maine District U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty resigned last Friday, one of dozens of U.S. attorneys appointed by President Obama who were asked to step down.

He has been replaced by Richard Murphy, previously the first assistant U.S. attorney, who will serve as acting U.S. attorney until a permanent replacement is named and confirmed by the Senate.

Collins formed a committee in January to review potential nominees for political posts in Maine. The eight-member panel was headed by Josh Tardy, a Newport lawyer and former Republican leader of the Maine House of Representatives. Tardy was also chair of Trump’s presidential campaign in Maine.

Both of Collins’ potential nominees interviewed with the committee, she said Thursday. Assuming nothing negative turns up in FBI background checks, and interviews with officials in the Justice Department go well, she said she anticipates that one of the two will be nominated for the post.

The 93 U.S. attorneys are considered the top federal law enforcement officers in federal judicial districts.

They prosecute federal cases in U.S. district courts and hand appeals to the circuit courts of appeals.

Collins said she would have been fine with Delahanty staying on while a new U.S. attorney was selected, but the Trump Administration opted to eliminate the Obama holdovers all at once. That prompted some criticism over the abruptness of the requested resignations.

One U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, refused to resign and was fired.

The position is one of thousands of political posts, Collins noted, and it’s not unusual for a new administration to want to quickly replace political appointees.

Collins pointed out that when she was the regional head of the Small Business Administration under the first President Bush, she received a fax at 12:01 p.m. on President Clinton’s inauguration day – literally a minute after the new president was sworn in – telling her she was fired.

“I didn’t take that personally,” she said. “That’s how the system works.”

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]