Monday, February 05, 2007

COLLINS WATCH In the past I'd heard vague rumblings about a 1996 pledge from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to serve no more than two terms in office. But searches both on and off the internet turned up nothing.

Thankfully, Foster's Daily Democrat has the scoop:

Collins said during her first campaign for the Senate she did not plan to serve more than two terms and thereafter reaffirmed that position when she first sought re-election.

The Bangor Daily News, on Sept. 17, 1996, reported Collins saying: "I want to go to Washington, serve two terms, and then come home."

Six years later, in a letter dated Sept. 6, 2002, to Carl Lindemann of Portland, Collins wrote: "I am proud of the accomplishments I have made during my first term, and I hope to have the opportunity to serve the people of Maine in the Senate for another six years. I intend to serve only two terms as I indicated in the Sanford forum six years ago."

But now, heading into a campaign for a third term, Collins says she has had a change of heart...

"I've found that I really underestimated the importance of seniority and how much difference it makes when you are a more senior member," said Collins, who worked for former U.S. Sen. William Cohen for a dozen years after college.

"At the time, I thought that 12 years, that two terms, would be enough. This was at the height of what I would call the frenzy over term limits," Collins said.

While it doesn't sound as though Collins made a formal, explicit promise not to seek re-election in 2008, she certainly made something close to a pledge. In any case, blaming the "frenzy over term limits" for her predicament does little to enhance her credibility.

In other news, Roll Call demonstrates why the minimum wage will be an issue in Collins's 2008 campaign:

Democrats are targeting Collins, who is up for reelection in 2008, and part of their strategy will be highlighting her mixed record on the minimum wage...

On March 7, 2005, Collins was one of only 16 senators to vote no on competing wage amendments offered by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

Kennedy's measure would have raised the minimum wage $2.10, and enjoyed bipartisan support with Republican Sens. Pete Domenici (N.M.), Norm Coleman (Minn.), the recently defeated Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) and Mike DeWine (Ohio). The amendment was defeated 46-49, falling 14 votes short of the 60 needed.

The Santorum amendment was billed as more business-friendly, calling for a wage increase of $1.10 with tax breaks for small businesses. Some conservatives, such as Sens. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and then-Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), voted for the measure, but it also fell, 38-61.

Collins's office declined to comment to The Hill on her votes at that time, but explained her stance when pressed on those votes this week, stating that the senator repeatedly has voted against minimum-wage bills that do not contain small-business exemptions and tax breaks.
Except that the Santorum amendment did include small business tax breaks.

Looks like Collins is going to have explaining to do on a whole host of fronts.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.