- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said on Tuesday she’s weighing a run for governor and it’s a “hard decision” because it would mean giving up 20 years of seniority earned in the Senate.

The Maine Republican was asked on WGAN-AM about her plans amid persistent speculation she might trade in Capitol Hill for the state capital.

“I’m trying to figure out where I can do the most good,” Collins answered. “I’m being totally honest with you. I truly don’t know. I really don’t. It’s a hard decision.”

She said she’d have to give up seniority she’s won in the Senate to run next year to try to become the state’s first female governor. She’d also have to forfeit two years of her term, leaving Republican Gov. Paul LePage to appoint someone to fulfill the remainder.

In Washington, Collins is considered a moderate, and her willingness to work with members of both major political parties has put her in the center of several political battles.

In 2005, she was part of the Gang of 14, which successfully negotiated a compromise to avoid the threat of the so-called nuclear option by Republicans over a Democratic filibuster of judicial candidates.

But she was unable to broker a compromise that prevented the nuclear option, which allows an override in the 100-member Senate with 51 votes instead of 60 votes, from being used to secure the nomination of Republican President Donald Trump’s supreme court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

She said after the radio interview that the “frenetic pace and turbulent political environment” in Washington prevented her from thinking about the pros and cons of leaving the Senate to run for governor.

She said she didn’t expect a decision to be made until the fall.

“The question for me is where can I do the most good for the people of Maine? In the Senate, I am ranked 15th in seniority and am positioned very well on key Senate committees to help our state,” Collins said. “As governor, if elected, I would be able to work directly on issues that are important to Maine, including jobs, economic development, and education.”

On the radio show, she said her goal is to “try to heal the state of Maine and bring people back together.”

She didn’t elaborating on the healing remark, but it appears she was alluding to controversies associated with the brash LePage, who regularly attacks Democrats, environmentalists, unions and welfare advocates.

LePage is contemplating his own political future. He is in his second term and is prevented from serving another term.

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