In a letter Wednesday replying to the committee, Collins stood by her vote, saying the decision she made was “based on the Constitution and the evidence before me, not on my membership in a political party or any other external factor.”
The only GOP senator who voted to convict who’s facing voters next year — Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski — could be facing her own backyard backlash soon, with the state party expecting to discuss her vote and debate any GOP effort to censure her at a meeting next month, according to the state party chairman Thursday.
Collins, 68, isn’t up for reelection until 2026, but her 2020 race against Democratic challenger Sara Gideon was highly competitive.
In their letter condemning Collins’ vote, the members of the committee said they “appreciate all the work” Collins does as a senator and for the Maine Republican Party, adding, “We know that you understand the electoral challenges that our party faces.”
“We want to continue to work with you to help expand upon this electoral success and replicate it in other races in Maine and across New England,” they wrote.
In her response, Collins noted her status as the only Republican in Congress from New England and the rarity of her ability to carry a state won by the opposite party’s presidential nominee. President Joe Biden won Maine in 2020, at the same time Collins won reelection. Acknowledging that “other races in Maine did not go as well,” Collins also said, “Now would be a good time for us to consider how we can improve our performance in the 2022 and 2024 cycles,” before encouraging the state party to be engaged in an upcoming special election in a state Senate district.
Maine GOP Executive Director Jason Savage on Wednesday argued that it’s only public discourse between Collins, whom he called an “independent thinker,” and the state committee “advocating for what they believe is right.”
In their letter Wednesday, the members of the committee said they had met with Collins prior to the impeachment trial, when they “expressed their view that the trial was unconstitutional because President Trump was no longer in office.” They also argued that the impeachment was “politically motivated” by Democrats.
In a speech on the Senate floor explaining her vote Saturday, Collins said that Trump’s “actions to interfere with the peaceful transition of power — the hallmark of our Constitution and our American democracy — were an abuse of power and constitute grounds for conviction.”
CNN’s Ali Zaslav and Clare Foran contributed to this report.