Kennebec County, Maine, Republicans joined their colleagues from Aroostook and Piscataquis Counties in censuring Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for her vote to convict former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial in February.
The Kennebec GOP voted overwhelmingly Tuesday evening to formally censure Collins by a vote of 49-18.
Helen Tutwiler, chairwoman of the Kennebec County Republican Committee, told News Center Maine Wednesday the vote to censure Collins is “important in re-engaging local voters who, by and large, are very hurt and frustrated with Senator Collins for not supporting even moderate Republican positions.”
A vote to censure the senator in February failed, but Kennebec GOP state committee member Dean Martin said their group has since organized, focused its priorities, and grown its membership.
Tutwiler added the Kennebec County GOP wanted to “send a clear message” that they are “America First” Republicans “who care about keeping local voters engaged and are willing to fight on their behalf.”
She said they would like to see Collins “rejoin state Republicans in their efforts to unify the party.”
News Center Maine reported Annie Clark, the senator’s communications director, responded to the latest censure vote by stressing the senator received “strong grassroots support” in the 2020 general election, soundly defeating far-left Democrat Sara Gideon, who was backed by Planned Parenthood, the abortion industry giant that has also supported pro-choice Collins.
Collins defeated Gideon, 54.9 percent to 38.5 percent in Kennebec and 51 percent to 42.4 percent in the state.
In an interview with News Center Maine in February following her vote to convict Trump, Collins maintained, “I am the sole remaining Republican office holder at the federal level in all of New England … and that tells me that we should focus on growing our party.”
The senator added:
And I think that we need to send a message that you can be a good Republican and not necessarily agree with every position taken by the party. We need to get back to focusing on the principles that unite Republicans: so individual responsibility and freedom and strong national defense smaller government support for our small businesses, opportunity, those are guiding principles of our party. And I think that’s where the focus needs to be rather than on one particular leader.
In March, the state Republican Party rejected censuring Collins. Reacting to that news, Collins said at the time, “Today’s decision is a testament to the Republican Party’s ‘big tent’ philosophy that respects different views but unites around core principles.”
However, a Maine Grassroots Republican Caucus (MGRC), a group of about 25 conservative Republican Mainers, including six county chairmen and state committee members, broke with the state GOP just one day after the state group voted to reject censuring the senator.
MGRC Chair John DeVeau told Breitbart News in May, “While we may have a ‘big tent’ philosophy, communications are non-existent.”
“The distrust among the ‘Grand Ole Party’ and Republicans is as obvious in Maine as it is nationally,” he continued. “It takes leadership to accept the fact that there are new ideas that need to be implemented and empower those to make things happen. Leadership is a 24-hour-a-day job, not a part-time side hustle. It’s tiresome and taxing, which is also why most great leaders want to move on after a few years and pass the mantle on to someone they have trained throughout their tenure.”
In March, Aroostook County Republicans, Collins’ home county, voted to censure her, stating her vote to convict Trump was “a purely self-serving, vindictive and punitive action by those with establishment political objectives.”
“Senator Collins’ public statements in support of the language, actions and promotion of an illegal, unethical, unconstitutional ‘impeachment’ of former President Donald J. Trump, undermines the conservative and ethical values promoted by the Aroostook County Republicans,” the censure statement read.
In late April, the Piscataquis County Republican Committee became the second county to censure Collins over her vote to convict Trump. The county GOP asserted Collins “continuously muddles her opinions and refuses to give principled stances on numerous issues when queried.”
In Kennebec, Martin said Maine Republicans want unity, “but not at the expense of turning a blind eye to party members who have lost touch with basic Republican principles.”
He added the decision to censure Collins was based on her “endless attacks” on Trump, as well as her “consistent lack of support for a variety of Republican issues even party moderates would support.”
“Republicans in Kennebec County continue to be fair-minded and moderate,” Martin said. “It’s Senator Collins who has changed.”