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Senator Susan Collins wins reelection in Maine, CBS News projects

Tight races leave Senate and House control undecided
Tight congressional races leave Senate and House control undecided 02:09

Maine's Susan Collins, whose Republican Senate seat was one of the most vulnerable in the country this election, has won reelection, CBS News projects.

Collins told supporters on Wednesday that her Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon, called her to concede. "I have news for everyone. I just received a very gracious call from Sara Gideon conceding the race," Collins said.

"I am the first person since Maine directly elected its senators to win a fifth term," said Collins, who has been a U.S. Senator since 1997. "So to the people of Maine, thank you, thank you! I will serve you with all my heart. I will work hard for you each and every day. Together we will come together."

Gideon's loss is a blow to the Democrats, who now have little chance of claiming a majority in the Senate. If Collins had had received under 50% of the vote, the race would have proceeded to a runoff, under Maine's system of ranked-choice voting.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Senate candidate Sara Gideon faced off in the most expensive political race in Maine's history. Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Sarah Rice/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gideon repeatedly criticized her opponent for voting to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. At the time, Collins' vote was a tossup that both Republicans and Democrats awaited with bated breath. 

She ultimately voted to confirm Kavanaugh, but said that his sexual assault accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who testified during his confirmation hearings, was "very compelling." 

"I feel very comfortable that I've made the right decision," Collins told "60 Minutes" Scott Pelley. in October 2018. "I could not come to another decision, based on the testimony and the evidence that I reviewed."

While Collins sided with her party on this issue, she is one of the most moderate Republicans. 

She also voted with her party to acquit President Trump earlier this year. Ahead of the impeachment vote, Collins told "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell that she believes Mr. Trump has learned a "pretty big lesson" by being impeached.

During the interview, Collins also acknowledged there could be voters in her home state of Maine who will be "unhappy" with her decision.

"All I can do is apply the constitutional standard. And that's my job. My job is not to weigh the political consequences, but to do impartial justice to live up to the oath that I took," Collins said.

Collins one other Republican voted to allow witnesses in the impeachment trial. But even without witnesses, Collins said she doesn't believe Mr. Trump's behavior "reaches the high bar in the Constitution for overturning an election."

Gideon raised nearly $70 million – more than double the $27 million that Collins raised – making this the most expensive race in Maine's history, CBS Boston reports. Despite out-raising her opponent, Gideon lost and gave a concession speech on Wednesday.

"While we came up short, I do believe Mainers in every corner of this state are ready to continue to work together to make a difference," Gideon said during her speech Wednesday, according to CBS Boston.

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