This famous Mainer was the last to go from senator to governor. He went right back.

Good morning from Augusta. As Maine awaits U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ decision on whether or not she’ll run for governor in 2018, we’re remembering the last Mainer to go from the Senate to the governorship. But Hannibal Hamlin’s dedication to the office was suspect.

The context for his win was the larger national battle over slavery. Mainers know Hamlin as the Republican who became Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president in 1861. That party was only founded in 1854 and Hamlin served in Congress as a Democrat dating back to 1843. As a senator in 1856, he left the Democrats after they adopted a national platform that called for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise — the 1820 deal that made Maine and Missouri states while allowing slavery in Missouri and not Maine, a move that got heavy national attention.

Republicans wanted him to be governor. He didn’t want it, but had little choice. Top Republicans embraced Hamlin as a stabilizing force in the new party. They also wanted to build their national party by winning the 1856 governor’s race and saw Hamlin as the conduit. At the time, parties nominated candidates internally and the Legislature elected U.S. senators. Republicans told Hamlin that he wouldn’t go back to the Senate if he declined to run for governor. So he did, on the condition that Republicans would send him back to Washington.

He won easily, then left. Maine’s strong abolitionist sense ruled the election. Hamlin won in a landslide and carried Republicans to legislative majorities in a boost to his party, which lost that year’s presidential election. He gave an inaugural address saying Maine should send money to anti-slavery settlers in conflict with pro-slavery settlers in the then-territory of Kansas. The same week, he was nominated to go back to the Senate and resigned on Feb. 25, 1857.

What is Collins thinking? The Republican sat down with WCSH on Thursday, saying yet again that she’s weighing her pivotal role on national matters against her desire to come home and affect state-level economic development. But like Hamlin, she’s looking into who would succeed her. She said there’s “a scenario” where she could pick her own replacement if she wins. The Maine Constitution simply says that a person holding another office can’t assume the role of governor, but she could theoretically resign from the Senate effective at her inauguration.

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  • And it’s hard to find people who dislike Collins. The Bangor Daily News traveled throughout Maine’s 2nd Congressional District talking to people there about Maine’s senior senator and could find very few who said they won’t vote for her again, whether she stays in the Senate or runs for governor. That’s despite Collins working against some of President Donald Trump’s priorities and congressional Republicans.
  • Paul LePage and Janet Mills are fighting again. On Thursday, the governor ordered the state controller to transfer more than $10 million under the discretion of the attorney general’s office to an account controlled by the Legislature and executive branch. Mills says the money was put in that account properly through language in two settlement agreements. LePage is asking the Legislature to weigh in.
  • An Old Orchard Beach campground and mobile home park may be the site for a proposed York County casino. The Portland Press Herald reported that the campaign says it’s only a test location, but it was identified in an economic study of the proposal and rumors have been swirling about it around the tourist-friendly town. But people who live in the park were surprised by the news.
  • Trump says he wants Congress to investigate journalists. He tweeted Thursday that the Senate Intelligence Committee should investigate reporting that he believes is “just made up.” That tweet came a day after the committee concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
  • Here’s his soundtrack.The gunman who terrorized Las Vegas also scouted Fenway Park. The man who killed at least 58 concert goers and himself Sunday considered carrying out his rampage at the Lollapalooza concert in Chicago or at Boston’s Fenway Park, according to investigators.
  • L.L Bean is being sued by a Utah company. A company called KÜHL filed suit earlier this week, arguing that Bean’s new “Be An Outsider” slogan is too close to the Salt Lake City company’s “The Outsider” slogan. KÜHL is demanding L.L. Bean stop using the word “outsider.”

Programming note

Your loyal Daily Brief team will be working Monday but most government employees and politicians will not be, so Daily Brief will observe Columbus Day and Indigenous People’s Day by going on hiatus until Tuesday. Here’s a soundtrack to tide you over until then.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd and edited by Robert Long. If you’re reading it on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to get Maine’s only newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.