Collins: "Congenital optimist" sticks with Senate

It might have taken a congenital optimist to sit through twenty minutes of Susan Collins’ speech to a Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning to get to the cliffhanger. Would Collins leave her safe perch the Senate to run for governor in Maine? No, Collins declared, and expressed her hope and belief that Congress would “be more productive” in the future with her keeping her seat:

Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced Friday morning that she will not run for governor and will instead remain in the Senate.

“I am a congenital optimist, and I continue to believe that Congress can — and will — be more productive,” Collins said at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Rockport.

The likelihood of Collins leaving was always low, but at least this kind of political cliffhanger offers a soothing sense of normalcy. These days, political cliffhangers tend toward whether we’ll start exchanging nuclear lobs with North Korea or which city gets set on fire for what cause. Collins has put too much time into the Senate to walk away for a fresh start on another political office, although Collins was smart enough to put that into a benefit for voters rather than herself:

“When I was sworn in, I was 99th in seniority….I’m now 15th,” Collins said. “My seniority and my persistent advocacy have allowed me to secure funding for important programs.”

In other words, she brings home the pork. That’s been the standard argument for re-election since the first member of Congress figured out that he could write checks to himself on the taxpayers’ account.

As for Congress getting more productive, that largely depends on whether people like Collins are willing to make tough votes and work as a team. It seems like an ironic claim to make after Collins repeatedly torpedoed Republican efforts to roll back ObamaCare this year, which is why Collins spoke for 20 minutes on health care policy before getting to the point on her political future. Neither Roll Call nor The Hill found those remarks memorable enough to report, but Collins and Lisa Murkowski openly bragged in August about killing the first attempt at ObamaCare repeal in order to protect Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. They put federal subsidies for an abortion mill ahead of the voters who elected Republicans on the basis of promises to repeal ObamaCare, and ahead of being “productive.”

Collins isn’t the solution to the problem she highlights. She’s part of it.