"Let me say that I am looking at where I can do the most good for the people of Maine," the Republican senator said in an interview with WGAN radio, when asked if she's given any thought to running for governor.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage
is term-limited and cannot run for a third consecutive term in 2018. If Collins decides to run and succeeds, LePage would be tasked with appointing someone to serve out the remaining two years of her current Senate term before he left office.
Collins ran for governor in 1994 but lost to independent Angus King
, who now serves alongside her as the junior US senator from Maine. (King is up for re-election next year, and LePage has reportedly shown interest in challenging King for his seat.)
In her two decades in the Senate, Collins has become a well-regarded moderate Republican who's worked across the aisle on several occasions.
"In the Senate, I now have significant seniority and that allows me to do a lot," she said in the radio interview.
Collins said if she "were fortunate enough to be elected" governor, she could work on issues "like economic development, jobs, education."
"And I would try to heal the state and bring people back together, which I think is important, as well," she said, without explaining the kind of division she was referencing.
"So I'm trying to figure out where I can do the most good," she continued. "I'm being totally honest with you, I truly don't know. I really don't. It's a hard decision."
In a subsequent statement to CNN, Collins echoed some of those same points from the radio interview and said, "The frenetic pace and turbulent political environment in Washington have prevented me from spending any significant time thinking through the pros and the cons. I don't expect that I will be making a decision until this fall."