“My win shows that a moderate can prevail in this highly polarized environment,” said Ms. Collins. “My victory in Maine shows that you can be an independent voice and take a few breaths, do what you see is right, and the voters, in some states at least, will reward you.”
Ms. Collins said she was open to working with former political enemies to achieve legislative success. But after surviving a brutal campaign in which the Democrats devastated her, Ms. Collins has reason to hold some grudges. She pointed out that Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and minority leader, was “a challenge” given “the millions of dollars in apparently false advertisements he placed against me.”
Although the exact balance of power in the Senate remains unknown until two runoff elections are decided in Georgia in early January, Republicans are preferred to winning both seats, which will likely result in Mr Biden becoming the first Democratic president since Grover Cleveland in 1885 runs without Democrats who have control over both chambers of Congress. A fraction of Republican support – likely that of Alaskan Ms. Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is due for re-election in 2022 – is needed to advance both his legislative and political ambitions.
“It puts them in a very strong position to get things done in the Senate,” said Steve Abbott, their campaign manager and longtime advisor. He described “a special self-confidence that arises when you” beat your chances “, one that strengthens them” to the core to do what they think is right “.
On a signal where power might rest in the 117th Congress, Mr. Biden has not yet spoken to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. But he made a point of calling Ms. Collins before his own victory was cemented. (Mr. Biden officially endorsed Ms. Gideon during the campaign, but did not appear in person with her.)
“I know that technically we have different political backgrounds, but not that different,” Biden said in a 2017 video filmed in honor of Mrs. Collins, who received an award from the Irish Heritage Center. “We have become good friends quickly, and I look forward to your continued leadership in the United States Senate, Susan.”