By DAVID SHARP
ROCKPORT, Maine — Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins announced Friday that she won’t run for governor because she believes she can do more good for the state by remaining in Washington.
“I am a congenital optimist. I continue to believe that Congress can, and will, be more productive,” Collins said at a local chamber breakfast. “I want to continue to play a key role in advancing policies that strengthen our nation, help our hardworking families, improve our health care system and bring peace and stability to a troubled and violent world.”
Speculation about Collins’ political future has been swirling for more than a year in her home state, where the moderate remains popular even as the Maine GOP has become more conservative.
Collins, 64, has been a consistent thorn in the side of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as her willingness to go her own way has left him short of votes on key bills, most prominently his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. It’s a role she’s embraced and one that she will continue to play in a Senate that, despite Collins’ optimistic statements, is likely to remain just as bitterly divided as ever in the years ahead.
Collins has also been a champion for those who want to hold President Donald Trump in check: She was one of three Republican senators who sunk the Senate health care bill pushed by his administration. She also serves key roles on Appropriations Committee and the Intelligence Committee investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The only Republican senator from New England has found herself among a dwindling number of GOP centrists like Arizona’s John McCain who are willing to work across the aisle. She’s not afraid to buck her own party: She introduced a bill to let transgender people serve in the military and opposed efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.
Collins, who has served for two decades in the…