But with the 2008 race coming into focus, we thought it would be worth shifting our attention, at least briefly, to her Democratic opponent, Congressman Tom Allen.
So we reached out to his campaign, which graciously set up an interview. On Monday, we sat down with Allen, who has represented Maine's first district since 1996.
Our discussion lasted about an hour, covering topics ranging from Iraq to Sen. Collins' perfect voting record to Moveon.org.
Here's what we learned.
On Iraq: Allen told us without hesitation that, "setting a deadline is the best way" to move forward.
When asked about Sen. Collins' continued unwillingness to support a withdrawal timetable--in the context of her repeated calls for a change in mission--he said, "the bottom line is, Susan wants to maintain an open-ended commitment in Iraq. And that's the President's policy."
"Changing the mission," he argued, "is just relabelling the mission."
He rejected, specifically, Collins' contention that redefining our military aim in Iraq as "counter-terrorism" would result in a changed role for US forces ("fighting terrorism is what we're doing now") or that it would necessarily cause a troop draw down.
And he characterized the limited troop reduction that Collins seems to be contemplating as a potential "worst of both worlds" scenario because the US presence would remain large enough to be seen by Iraqis as an occupying force, and yet the American military would have a tougher time policing Baghdad because of reduced troop levels.
He also dismissed the charge that he and other Democrats are arguing for an "abrupt" or "precipitous" withdrawal, countering that "nobody who understands the mechanics of pulling troops out safely" is calling for a lightning-fast process, and that a safe, orderly redeployment of troops and equipment would take about a year.
Allen conceded that the next step for withdrawal timeline supporters isn't clear. He speculated that the House might take up the Webb amendment, but acknowledged that the failure of Levin-Reed in the Senate means that progress toward a revamped Iraq policy has stalled for now.
On fighting for Maine's interests: "Susan Collins has supported the entire Bush economic agenda--she's voted for every tax cut. The result is less money in Maine for healthcare, environmental protection, headstart" and other programs. "When you give billions to the wealthiest, there's a lot less for domestic priorities."
Predicting that Democrats would hold or expand their congressional majorities, he argued that seniority--one of the reasons Collins has used to justify breaking her promise to serve only two terms--is less helpful for the state than having a senator who is a member of the majority party.
On the subject of Collins' pledge, Allen called Collins' newfound appreciation for the importance of seniority politically expedient but "not credible" given her decade of experience on Capitol Hill as a staffer for former Senator William Cohen.
On habeas corpus: "It is fundamental to a free society that if the government locks you up, you have the right to an attorney and a right to a hearing before a judicial officer. [Collins] disagrees...Civil rights issues are a major point of difference between us."
On Supreme Court vacancies: "I want very intelligent people, but also wise men and women--people who've had the right kind of life experience." He also cautioned against nominees "married to a particular ideology" and those with an expansive view of executive branch power.
On Justice Alito: "Alito had a record as an ideological partisan that stretched back for years. So it's no surprise that he's been a key vote in enhancing executive power" or that he's voted to uphold a ban on late term abortions and to make it harder to challenge workplace discrimination.
On Mukasey: Allen said he'd like to hear more about the President's nominee for Attorney General, and that his record "bears some close examination" given this story in yesterday's New York Times.
On Sen. Collins' perfect voting record: "Not important. I think there are seven people in the House this year who haven't missed a vote. If you have the kind of record I do, which is a 98 percent voting record over a decade, what's important is what you vote for, what you fight for, not the difference between 98[%] and 100[%]."
"If she missed the vote on the 2003 tax cut," Allen quipped,"the country would have been better off."
Moveon.org and the Petraeus Ad: "I don't think it was a wise ad," Allen told us. "I disagree with it." He later called it "over the top."
At the same time, he maintained that, "the people who attack Moveon.org attack it because of its politics" and that "there's nothing wrong with essentially small dollar contributions from large numbers of American citizens."
Allen distanced himself from the Senate resolution condemning the organization, asserting, "you won't see me criticizing a conservative group that raises money from conservative American citizens."