AUBURN — Republican Sen. Susan Collins said Monday she is confident her party will retain control of the Senate but is not as sure it will wind up in charge of the House.

“We’re firm in the Senate,” Collins said, adding she will not be surprised if the Republicans gain a couple of seats in the Nov. 6 election.

However, hanging on to the House “is trickier,” she said.

Maine’s senior senator expects that Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a two-term Republican in Maine’s 2nd District, will come out on top in a “very close” race against her former aide, Democrat Jared Golden of Lewiston.

Collins said she supports Poliquin but is sure she could work with Golden successfully if he wins the seat.

Collins made her comments during a campaign swing through Auburn to support a Republican state Senate contender, Ellie Espling of New Gloucester.

Espling is running against Democratic newcomer Ned Claxton, a retired Auburn physician, for the District 20 seat representing Auburn, New Gloucester, Poland, Minot and Mechanic Falls.

Collins expressed dismay at the partisanship in Washington and the violence that has swept the country in recent days, including a letter delivered to her Bangor home that claimed it had been contaminated with ricin, a deadly toxin.

Collins said it is “abhorrent to American life and values” for people to lash out violently to press a political agenda.

She said there have been multiple frightening incidents involving her and her staff that the FBI is investigating.

“There’s no need for that,” Collins said.

She said it has been “a really difficult time” in the nation’s capital since the election of President Trump, a candidate for whom she did not vote.

She said too many Democrats have proved unwilling to recognize that he is, for better or worse, the president.

“Once a president is elected, you have to work with him,” Collins said.

She said Republican senators do not always agree with the president – and neither does she – but she tries to address the issues with him for the good of the country.

“When I agree with him, I’m going to try to get it done,” Collins said.

She has been especially impressed with Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, who works for him at the White House on a variety of issues.

Collins said she thinks “very highly” of Ivanka Trump because “she’s very smart” and she listens carefully.

Collins is doing what she can to help her party retain control of the Senate.

This week, she is making “this whirlwind crazy trip” out to Arizona to campaign for a day with Martha McSally, the GOP’s candidate in the close contest for the seat that’s being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who is stepping down.

“That’s a neck-and-neck race,” said Collins, who is lending a hand at McSally’s request.

Collins said she is not worried that Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, might lose to Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who has run a surprisingly strong campaign.

“It is Texas,” Collins said, “and I just can’t see Texas electing a Democrat.”

Steve Collins can be contacted at:

[email protected]


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