Susan Margaret Collins (born December 7, 1952) is the junior United States Senator from Maine and a member of the Republican Party. First elected to the Senate in 1996, she is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Collins and her fellow Senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe, are regarded as leading moderates within the Republican Party.
One of six children, Susan Collins was born in Caribou, Maine, where her family have operated a lumber business since 1844. Her parents, Donald and Patricia, each served as mayor of Caribou; her father also served in both houses of the Maine Legislature. Her uncle, Samuel W. Collins, Jr., sat on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court from 1988 to 1994.
Collins attended Caribou High School, where she was president of the student council. During her senior year of high school in 1971, Collins was chosen to participate in the U.S. Senate Youth Program, through which she visited Washington, D.C. for the first time and engaged in a two-hour conversation with U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith (R-ME). Collins is the first program delegate elected to the Senate and currently holds the seat once held by Smith. After graduating from Caribou High School, she continued her education at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. Like her father before her, she was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa national academic honor society. She graduated from St. Lawrence magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in government in 1975.
Described as one of "the last survivors of a once common species of moderate Northeastern Republican," Collins is considered a bipartisan and centrist member of the Republican Party, and an influential player in the U.S. Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans for Choice, The Wish List, Republicans for Environmental Protection, and the Republican Leadership Council. Her voting record was at one time center-left which has caused some Republicans to label her as a "Republican in Name Only" (RINO). Although she shares a centrist ideology with Maine's senior Senator, Olympia Snowe, Collins is considered a "half-turn more conservative" than Snowe. Collins has consistently been endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, a major LGBT rights organization; she was one of six Republicans running in 2008 to be endorsed by the HRC. She supported John McCain in the 2008 election for President of the United States.
Senate. She is a member of several moderate organizations within the Republican Party, including the Republican Main Street Partnership,
2008 re-election campaign
Collins ran for re-election in 2008 and on May 8, 2007, Representative Tom Allen (District 1) filed papers to run against her. On the same day a poll was released by Critical Insights — an independent polling firm in Portland, Maine — which showed Collins was a strong early favorite. The poll of 600 likely voters showed Collins leading Allen statewide 57% to 30%, with 65% of the important independent vote. With just nine weeks to election day on November 4, according to a Rasmussen poll Senator Collins led Rep. Tom Allen by fifteen points, 53%-38%.
Among independents, Senator Collins led comfortably, 55%-32% and was viewed favorably by independents with a 67% approval rating among them. One month prior to election day another Rasmussen poll gave Senator Collins a 10-point lead over Rep. Allen, 53%-43%. Overcoming strong anti-Republican sentiment, Collins was elected to a third term with 61.5% of the vote.