U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is widely regarded as one of the last remaining moderate Republicans, invited an extremist right-wing politician from her home state to the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night.
Members of Congress traditionally bring one guest to the president’s annual bicameral address. This year, Collins chose state Rep. Kathleen Dillingham of Oxford, a Republican who currently serves as the minority leader in the Maine House.
Dillingham has a hard-right record in Maine’s House that largely mirrors the priorities of the state’s former arch-conservative governor, Paul LePage.
Some of Dillingham’s most conservative votes include voting against funding for transitional housing for returning female veterans and their children, voting to roll back a minimum wage increase that was approved via a statewide ballot initiative, and voting against exempting diapers from state sales tax.
According to the Bangor Daily News, “Maine’s senators’ choices” for State of the Union guests “largely reflect where they are in the six-year election cycle.” The publication also noted that Collins is “quietly gearing up for what could be her toughest re-election campaign in 2020,” before reporting on her decision to invite Dillingham to attend the State of the Union address.
Collins is widely considered one of the must vulnerable Republicans running for re-election in 2020.
Critics argue that her voting record and rhetoric has shifted steadily rightward in the first two years of the Trump administration. A non-partisan analysis of her voting record shows that she has voted with Trump 94 percent of the time, a 17-point increase from her support for the last Republican president she served with, George W. Bush.