Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin made the unusual move of endorsing Republican Sen. Susan Collins in her expected run for her fifth term in Maine next year. The centrist West Virginia Senator managed to hold onto his own seat last cycle despite the GOP heavily targeting it as a potential flip after Trump carried the right-trending state handily. Collins is facing the inverse situation; she’s fighting to hold onto her seat in a state Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and has tipped left of late. The pair, in many ways, are kindred spirit holdouts in the Senate where they often defy their own party and still manage to hold on in states that seem to have moved in another direction.
Manchin’s endorsement came on C-SPAN’s Newsmakers talk show Thursday and didn’t stop at moral support. “I would go up and campaign for Susan Collins. If she wanted me to, I would campaign for Susan Collins. For America to lose somebody like Susan Collins would be an absolute shame. I feel that strongly about her,” Manchin said. “You think my party will be happy? No.”
Ahem, no they will not Joe. Sen. Collins’ seat is considered a must have for Democrats looking to lock up the Senate while they can still wring out some of the Democratic enthusiasm generated by Trump’s presence in the White House. Collins support for things like abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act had made her a friendly face for Democrats looking for common ground across the aisle. Collins vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, however, sparked outrage, outweighing all previous efforts at bipartisanism, and affixed the Democratic base’s bullseye to her seat.
One potentially formidable Democratic candidate failed to materialize Thursday, after former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice announced she will not run against Collins despite expressing interest last fall. Rice, who has deep roots in the state, cited family reasons as the deciding factor for staying out of the race.