Photo: Carolyn Kaster (AP)

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice may or may not try to take Susan Collins’ Senate seat in Maine in 2020, but for now, she’s certainly enjoying the attention.

“I have been moved by the enthusiasm,” Rice said onstage during an event Sunday night at the New Yorker Festival, per the Associated Press. “I’m going to give it due consideration after the midterms.”

Rice set off a frenzy when she tweeted a one-word quip indicating that she would be open to run against Collins when the incumbent’s term ends in 2020, amid a outpouring of rage toward the longtime Republican Senator for her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.

Since then, Rice has been demure about her plans to run, saying that she “wasn’t making any announcements” formally. If she does decide to run, however, she’ll have a $3 million startup fund, thanks to a widespread fundraising campaign started immediately after Collins’ speech.

Advertisement

Collins, for her part, dismissed Rice’s plans to run on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“As far as Susan Rice is concerned, her family has a home in Maine, but she doesn’t live in the state of Maine. Everybody knows that,” Collins said.

Advertisement

Rice shot back at the New Yorker festival.

“My ties to Maine are long and deep,” she said. “My family goes back generations. My grandparents emigrated to Portland, Maine, in 1912. They stayed in Maine until they died; they raised five children there. For the last twenty years, I’ve been a homeowner in the state of Maine.”

It’s pretty clear that Rice is doing everything she can to keep the door open and her name in the news for the next week or so. If she wasn’t mulling a run before Collins’s speech, it’s unrealistic for her to formally mount a campaign in a couple of days, so it seems a bit harsh to tell her to commit or shut up at this stage. Rice is a pretty staunch “moderate liberal” by her own terminology, but the fact that she’s taking such a strong stance on Kavanaugh is encouraging at least.

Advertisement

The Maine Democratic infrastructure certainly seems amenable to a centrist like Rice, as well: they recently passed over three outspoken progressive candidates to nominate a moderate, Janet Mills, to try to take back the governor’s seat from the Republican party. Mills is currently tied in the polls with her opponent, businessman Shawn Moody.