With 642 days until the November 2014 elections, it appears Senator Susan Collins is positioning herself to seek a fourth term to the United States Senate. Collins is currently Maine’s senior senator serving on the Committee on Appropriations, Special Committee on Aging and the Select Committee on Intelligence.
A recent poll by Public Policy Polling showed Collins to have a high favorability rating in Maine at 63% and when tested against prospective opponents, including Representatives Michaud and Pingree, Colilns won handily.
Although seen as safe for re-election against potential Democratic challengers, the poll does indicate that Collins could be vulnerable to a conservative primary challenger. According to PPP:
As Dick Lugar and Lisa Murkowski and Mike Castle have learned in recent years though, being a moderate Republican can give you trouble in a Senate primary. Collins’ 66/24 approval spread with GOP voters is well below Murkowski’s 77/13 standing at the beginning of 2010- she was defeated in the primary 8 months later. And against a hypothetical ‘more conservative’ GOP opponent in a primary, Collins leads only 49-46. Voters describing themselves as ‘very conservative’ would like to replace her by a 75/22 margin. If the Tea Party is looking for a primary target in 2014, Collins probably belongs at the top of the list alongside Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss.
As the U.S. Senate begins consideration on several controversial issues, including fiscal policy and sequestration, immigration reform and amnesty, and gun control measures, it is safe to say that several votes could pose challenges to Collins to balance her general election appeal and not rile up the traditional base of conservative primary voters.
Though no primary challenger has publicly emerged, rumors on the conservative forum As Maine Goes, have speculated former State Treasurer and failed gubernatorial and senate contender Bruce Poliquin may decide to make a run for Collins’s seat. In an interview with Newsmax, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus recently expressed potential concern about a challenge to Senator Collins re-election, stating “we have a potential race in Maine and we’ve got to protect Susan Collins.”
Two actions this week indicate that Senator Collins is aggressively seeking re-election. According to tweets from @collinswatch and from former Collins’ staffer @davidheidrich, her campaign website was recently inactive, and has since been relaunched with a new biographical video.
Perhaps most importantly is her campaign finance position. Collins’ 2012 year-end filing with the Federal Election Commission showed her having raised $1,062,344 in contributions, including $113,167 in the last quarter. As the campaign begins, she starts with $921,222 cash on hand, a significant advantage over any potential challenger.