Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican in a state thatâ€™s not. Sheâ€™s moderate and bipartisan in a party thatâ€™s not.
Yet it would be tough for her to be any safer, politically, as she looks toward re-election in 2014.
â€œShe may be the strongest Republican incumbent in the country,â€ GOP consultant Erik Potholm, who hails from Maine, wrote in an email. â€œShe has sky high approval numbers and has become a political rock star in Maine.â€
â€œIn the past she has easily crushed top tier Dem challengers like [former Rep.] Tom Allen and [now-Rep.] Chellie Pingree,â€ he added. â€œI doubt any credible Dems will take her on this cycle. They would be crazy to do so.â€
â€œI think sheâ€™s fine,â€ said Maine political consultant Dennis Bailey, who is a registered Democrat. â€œI donâ€™t see any vulnerability.â€
But in 2008, despite a wave election for Democrats and a strong challenge from Allen, Collins won by 22 points. She won her first re-election in 2002 with a comfortable 58 percent of the vote against Pingree.
Safe from a real Democratic challenge, Collinsâ€™ vulnerability from the right also appears marginal.
One name floated as a potential Republican challenger is former state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, who came up short in the GOP primary for Senate in 2012.
Tyler Harber, a GOP consultant who is close to Poliquin, said that the former state treasurer has been approached to run against Collins or for one of Maineâ€™s two House seats but Poliquin â€œhasnâ€™t made a decision yet as far as I know.â€
â€œHeâ€™s so deliberate, it will probably be awhile before he makes a decision,â€ Harber said. â€œIâ€™d be surprised if he jumped in against Susan Collins, but anything is possible.â€
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