Rockport, ME—U.S. Senator Susan Collins was the featured speaker this morning at the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Quarterly Business Breakfast. Approximately 225 members of the business community attended the event in Rockport. With a membership of more than 800 businesses, Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce is the third largest Chamber of Commerce in Maine.
During her remarks, Senator Collins discussed the recent health care debate as well as her ongoing work to improve the health care system. She also announced her decision on whether to run in Maine’s upcoming gubernatorial election.
Click HERE for a copy of Senator Collins’ full speech. An excerpt of Senator Collins’ remarks regarding her decision on the governor’s race is below:
“As most of you know, I have been deliberating for some time about whether or not to seek the Republican nomination for Governor. Shortly after I was re-elected to the Senate in 2014, many residents of our State began urging me to consider running for Governor. I am touched that many of our residents believe that I could provide our state with thoughtful and effective leadership, particularly in providing greater economic opportunities and more jobs throughout our state. The ‘hands-on’ nature of the Governor’s job is very appealing to me.
“Many who stopped me on the streets, in stores, at church, and in countless communities have also suggested that I could help heal the divisions in our State. And, on a personal note, I would love being in Maine full time where most of my family and so many of my friends live.
“Were I to be successful in a campaign for Governor, it would, of course, mean giving up my seat in the United States Senate. When I was first sworn in, I was 99th in seniority. I am now 15th.
“I hold a senior position on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee where I have been able to accomplish a great deal for the people of our State. My seniority – along with my persistent advocacy – have allowed me to secure funding for important programs including vital transportation and community development projects, providing seed money for programs at the University of Maine and our community colleges, advocating for Acadia National Park and our wildlife refuges, ensuring funding for Navy ships built at Bath Iron Works and the submarine overhauls at the shipyard in Kittery, pressing for accessible health care for our veterans, and securing research dollars for iconic Maine products like potatoes, blueberries, and lobsters.
“I am also proud of the work that I have done to overhaul our homeland security after the 9/11 attacks, to dramatically increase funding for the National Institutes of Health – especially for diabetes and Alzheimer’s research – and to repeal the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ law.
“I could not have accomplished what I have done without my wonderfully supportive family, most notably my husband Tom Daffron, and my hardworking staff, headed by Steve Abbott.
“The voters of Maine have rewarded this effort by re-electing me three times, by ever-increasing margins, and for these votes of confidence, I will be forever grateful.
“I take the time to mention all these factors to let you know that this decision has not been an easy one. Ultimately, I have been guided by my sense of where I could do the most for the people of Maine – and our nation.
“These are difficult times in our country, and the Senate reflects the discord and division that characterize our nation today. One of my Senate colleagues wrote me a lovely note urging me to stay in the Senate, saying: ‘The institution would suffer in your absence. While the temptation might be to walk away and leave the problems to others, there are very few who have the ability to bring about positive change. You are such a person.’
“As I thought about this Senator’s words, I realized how much remains to be done in a divided and troubled Washington if we are to serve the people of our states. I have demonstrated the ability to work across the aisle, to build coalitions, and to listen to the people of my state and my country. The challenges we face today are enormous – from frustrated families with stagnant wages and expensive health care to a nuclear-armed North Korea and Russian interference in the very fabric of our democracy, our elections.
“I am a congenital optimist, and I continue to believe that Congress can – and will – be more productive. I want to continue to play a key role in advancing policies that strengthen our economy, help our hard-working families, improve our health care system, and bring peace and stability to a violent and troubled world.
“And I have concluded that the best way that I can contribute to these priorities is to remain a member of the United States Senate.”