WASHINGTON — Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who represents a conservative state, offered his support Thursday to Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from a state that tilts left, in her expected 2020 bid for reelection.
Though Collins has not officially announced that she’s running for another term to represent Maine in the Senate, it’s widely assumed that she will.
Democrats consider flipping her seat key to winning the Senate majority. But Manchin, of West Virginia, defended his support for Collins.
“For America to lose someone like Susan Collins would be an absolute shame,” Manchin said during in an interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program, which airs Friday night. “I feel that strongly about this lady.”
Manchin called Collins a “dear friend” and said he’d go to Maine to campaign for her if she asked.
“Do you think my party would be happy?” Manchin asked, with a smile. He added, “It’s not about party.”
Manchin and Collins share a common bond over their willingness to cross their parties on tough votes. More than any other senators, they often must weigh their party’s priorities against their constituents’ desires.
For example, Manchin voted with Republicans to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Collins voted with Democrats against dismantling the Affordable Care Act.
A sitting Democratic senator endorsing a Republican senator’s campaign is rare, especially in this hyperpartisan climate.
An endorsement from a member of the Democratic Party could serve Collins well in a state that tends to trend Democratic, especially in presidential election years. For that reason, Collins is considered one of the most vulnerable senators running in 2020. Manchin’s support for her is essentially saying he’s willing to risk the Democrats’ chance of taking the Senate. Meanwhile, on Thursday, Susan Rice, the United Nations ambassador in President Barack Obama’s administration, said she wasn’t going to run for Collins’ seat.