Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Collins, Susan M.

(1952- ) Susan Margaret Collins, a U.S. Senator from Maine, was born in Caribou December 7, 1952, and graduated from St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York in 1975.  A native of Aroostook County , her family has run a lumber company since the mid-19th century.

Even after the United States Department of Agriculture proposed elininating high calorie potatoes from school breakfasts, and limiting their use in school lunches, she staunchly defended the Aroostook County staple crop, opposing limiting potatoes from school meals. The new guidelines were required by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which required the USDA to issue science-based guidelines based on recommendations of the Institute of Medicine.

She worked for Republican United States Senator William S. Cohen from 1975 to 1987, serving as staff director of the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on the Oversight of Government Management from 1981-1987.

Collins was appointed by Republican Governor John McKernan to be commissioner of the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, (1987-1992). She was New England regional director of the United States Small Business Administration in 1992.

She then moved to Massachusetts and served as Deputy Treasurer for the State of Massachusetts in 1993.  She moved back to Maine and, as the first Maine woman to be nominated for governor by a major political party, was an unsuccessful Republican candidate in 1994.

Collins was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1996 for the term ending January 2, 2003; she won reelection for a second six-year term in 2002, promising she would respect the popular call for “term limits.”  However, in 2008 she decided to run again.  She won another six-year term.

Senator Collins chaired or was the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs during the height of the Iraq War, but was critized for chose not investigating charges of misuse of government funds as billions of dollars in aid was unaccounted for.

At times, some Republicans have accused her of being a RINO – “Republican in Name Only.” But, as a member of the Republican minority in the Senate, Collins has supported Republican leaders use of the filibuster (unlimited debate) in opposing votes by the full Senate on legislation her party opposes.

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