Turning to “the elephant in the room” was a great pivot for Susan Collins from her brief policy speech on necessary repairs to Obamacare to the question on everyone’s mind Friday morning: whether she would stay in the U.S. Senate or run for governor of Maine.

“The elephant in the room” – get it?

Of course you do. The pun is nerdy, kind of funny and wholesome – and pretty much sums up the 15th most senior member of the United States Senate. Collins’ approval rating of 65 percent is no accident. She works hard at building political capital the nose-to-the-grindstone way, and it pays. She wins people over one by one. Her reputation is sterling, and she has power that is used sometimes more successfully than others, but she always gets an A for trying.

And Collins has got game. She did for Maine news what Donald Trump did for the national press – create an exciting buzz around an announcement, sustain interest in it and maintain suspense until the very-well-choreographed end – but unlike Trump’s, her show had more class from a podium in Rockport than any ride down a gilded escalator in New York City. The Collins brand of feel-good patriotism may lack anger, but it packs a punch. Paul LePage, Donald Trump and all the other boorish loudmouths flapping their traps and tweets can go jump in a lake.

Susan Collins is well-positioned, has broad bipartisan support and is firmly ensconced in a Senate chamber where Republicans have only a two-person majority. Her years in the wilderness as a moderate mean that she now has no chickens coming home to roost (I’m taking a good metaphor and overdoing it).

Susan Collins leads by example and reinforces common-sense rules for the younger generations. Be prepared, be brief, know your topic, dress for success, don’t be a moron – and if you must marry your boss, wait at least 35 years.

Finding common ground is a cliche in political circles, but some people really do try harder to connect with others rather than disconnect. Sen. Collins and I don’t agree on big things – the biggest probably her decision not to support Hillary Clinton for president. But we both married men named Tom, we both grew up in families that come from the lumber business and we both lost general elections to Angus King in a three-way race. The personal voicemail message Collins left for me after my loss in 2012 remains one of the most treasured gestures I’ve received in politics. I think I saved the recording somewhere and hope the Russians are on top of that.

Collins’ polished and sometimes boring public persona is steady like an old wood-paneled station wagon with big leather seats. Her personal constituent outreach and her staff’s polite and professional responsiveness are the hallmark of civic life.

To be sure, the bar is very low these days, and Susan Collins can’t part the waters or walk on top of it. There is not much happening in Washington to be proud of, but there is some joy and dignity in being well represented. The larger, national challenge is to increase the level of satisfaction among voters in other parts of the country. If more people felt better about government, they might stop sending representatives to Congress to burn the place down.

The devil of politics is in the details of the laws that pass or the regulations that get undone. Great politicians manage the policy wars and strive to see some degree of goodness in others – or at least appreciate the cost of making enemies. At a minimum, a master in the art of politics sees people for what they are, what they are trying to do and for what and why they stand. Experts appreciate the need for occasional expedience and don’t give and take everything personally.

Now that Susan Collins has made her move, others will follow suit. Would-be governors are licking their chops now that a whiff of competition is in the air. Maine is poised for a vigorous race. If Maine people want more people like Susan Collins or Chellie Pingree or Angus King to serve, the application process at the primary level should test a candidate’s ability to lead by following common-sense rules. Elections should not be like cage fighting, tiger wrestling or winning a round of “Survivor.” The jobs are too big and too important for fools.

Susan Collins isn’t running for governor, but a lot of other people are – some more willing to see people as people rather than people as political affiliation. If, as Collins suggested Friday, extreme partisanship is not a pre-existing condition, then the elephant in the room might not be an elephant. Get it?

Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and a former state senator. She can be contacted at:

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Twitter: @dillesquire