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With a rock-solid victory, Susan Collins is ready to negotiate

“My victory shows that a moderate can prevail in this highly polarized environment,” Ms. Collins said. “My victory in Maine shows that you can be an independent voice and take a few breaths, do what you think is right, and the voters, at least in some states, will reward you.”

Ms Collins said she was willing to work with former political enemies to achieve legislative achievements. But after surviving a brutal campaign in which Democrats saved her, Ms Collins has reason to hold a grudge. She pointed out that Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and Leader of the Minority, presented “a challenge” given “the millions of dollars in patently bogus advertising he has launched against me.”

While the precise balance of power in the Senate will remain unknown until two second-round races in Georgia are decided in early January, Republicans are favored to win both seats, likely leaving Mr Biden as the first Democratic president since. Grover Cleveland in 1885 to take office. without Democrats in control of both houses of Congress. A fraction of Republican support – likely that of Ms Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, due for re-election in 2022 – will be needed to advance her legislative and political ambitions.

It puts her in a very strong position to get things done in the Senate,” said Steve Abbott, her campaign manager and longtime advisor. He described “a particular self-confidence that comes” from “going beyond the odds,” a confidence that he added “strengthens her to the core, to do what she thinks is right.”

In a signal of where power might rest in the 117th Congress, Mr. Biden has yet to speak to Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. But he insisted on calling Ms Collins before his own victory was cemented. (Mr. Biden officially endorsed Ms. Gideon during the campaign, but did not show up in person with her.)

“I know we technically come from different political backgrounds, but they’re not that different,” Mr Biden said in a 2017 video filmed in honor of Ms Collins receiving an award from the Irish Heritage Center. “We quickly became good friends, and I look forward to your continuing to lead the United States Senate, Susan.