Who Is?
S4 E10

Who Is Susan Collins? Narrated by Cheslie Kryst

That’s Susan Collins. A deciding vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, a U.S. Senator from Maine, and a beacon of moderation… until she’s not… which is often.

Susan Margaret Collins was born in Caribou, Maine to an upper-middle class family deeply involved in state politics. Both her parents served as mayor of the town, and her father was also a state senator. Collins attended Caribou High School, where she participated in the Senate Youth Program. From Caribou, she went to St. Lawrence University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in 1975.
After college, Collins interned for Bill Cohen, the first Republican in the House to vote for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. She was hired on and moved to Washington, where she’d spend the next 12 years working as a congressional staffer for the moderate congressman.

After her long stint with Cohen, a politically seasoned Collins returned to Maine. She worked as business commissioner in Governor McKernan’s cabinet for five years and then, in 1994, she ran for governor unsuccessfully, receiving just 23% of the vote. In 1996, she won the Senate seat left open by her former boss, Bill Cohen, where she’d be for the next few decades.

In the Senate, Collins has championed the moderate label. “I’m consistently sought out by both sides for co-sponsorship of bills, I have a lot of power -- I like that.” She has voted against efforts to define marriage as between a man and a woman , and from 1997 to 2016, she voted with her party on party-line votes only 59% of the time- when the average senator during that time voted with their party roughly 90% of the time. But ever since a former steak salesman narrowly won the Presidency, Collins has - for the most part - been in lockstep with the steak man.

In 2017, Collins sided with Republicans in 87% of party-line votes, the highest percentage in her time in the Senate. She voted for the passage of a massive tax cut for the richest families and biggest corporations. She voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch. She was one of the earliest supporters of Jeff Sessions bid to become Attorney General, a guy who said he thought the KKK were ‘ok’ until he found out they smoked pot. She voted against Betsy DeVos perhaps knowing Pence would break the tie in the Senate while allowing Collins to maintain her moderate label, who knows. And then there was super beer fan and accused sexual assaulter Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. At first, Collins appeared undecided. But after Collins heard Kavanaugh scream at Amy Klobuchar about beer, she believed there was no way Kavanaugh did this.

Collins is up for reelection in 2020, and it won’t be an easy race considering she has received more donations from Texas fossil fuel industries than by human people in her state of Maine. In the first quarter of 2019, only thirteen Maine residents gave Collins $200 or more. If Collins, a ‘moderate’ Republican, wasn’t already vulnerable enough, her opponent — who doesn’t yet exist — has more than 3 million dollars waiting for them, thanks to donations raised by not fossil fuel industries, but actual people. It’s unclear if Collins will put on one last face and reach across the aisle to grab money that isn’t hers.