In moderation

Last week, Sen. Susan Collins made her long-awaited, much-anticipated decision on whether she would run for governor next year or continue her service as Maine’s senior senator in Washington. Her decision to remain in the Senate is one we appreciate and applaud.

A nationally recognized moderate, Collins’ probity and belief in thoughtful deliberation are urgently needed in an era of personal attacks, name calling and attention-deficit leadership.

Collins started her political career working for Sen. Bill Cohen as a staff assistant. She later served as staff director for a congressional committee. In 1987, she was appointed as the commissioner of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. It was in that role that she first came to the collective attention of many Mainers when she worked to address the workers’ compensation crisis that had led to the shutdown of state government.

She was appointed director of the Small Business Association’s regional office in Boston in 1992 and then two years later ran for governor of Maine as the Republican Party’s nominee. She finished third in a four-way race, losing out to Democrat Joe Brennan and independent Angus King. Now her senate colleague in Washington, King said after Collins made her decision to stay in the Senate that she is a “champion for the state of Maine” and that he considers it a privilege to serve with her.

Her record in the Senate, to which she was elected in 1996, has been a remarkable one. Evidence of her dedication to working for the people of Maine can be found in the fact that she has been present to vote on more than 6,000 consecutive roll call votes. She was ranked as the most bipartisan senator in the last session of Congress. In a 2015 poll, Collins had the highest approval ranking of any sitting Republican senator (and second highest overall, behind Vermont’s Bernie Sanders).

We agree with the assessment of political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, who told The New York Times that Collins’ decision to remain in the Senate is good news for people “who are looking for dispassionate, pragmatic leadership” and who want politicians “willing to cross party lines on important votes.”

In this most disagreeably divisive era, with North Korea, Iran, health care, tax policy and immigration reform stirring discontent and anxiety in every corner, Collins’ quiet courage and plain-spoken reasonableness are attributes that may well pull us back from the abyss.

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