Maine's Other Senator Could Swing Health Reform

Eyes turn to Susan Collins as Dems ramp up courtship
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2009 7:15 AM CDT
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
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(Newser) – Last week Sen. Olympia Snowe was the center of attention of Capitol Hill as she bucked the GOP line to support health care reform, but now Maine's other Republican senator, Susan Collins, is the one to watch. Both women voted for President Obama's stimulus package in February, and Democrats and the media are following Collins everywhere, trying to ferret out  her intentions. No dice—up in Bangor recently, she said, "I really haven't made up my mind yet."

Recently Collins had dinner with budget director Peter Orzsag, got an invite from Harry Reid, and sat down at the White House with Rahm Emanuel—and Obama himself, who just happened to "drop in." It may be hard for Collins to go up against the Republican leadership, but her aging, relatively poor state relies on small business revenue, and support for reform is in the air. "Maine doesn't care about political affiliation," said one business leader. "It cares about what you do for Maine."