When it comes to the second most important question on Mainers’ ballots, the indicator of how you’ll vote is how angry you are with Susan Collins. It isn’t Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell, it isn’t the Supreme Court, and it isn’t any other number of global considerations over which we have precious little control.

I haven’t voted yet because I’m torn on this one, both personally and politically. At one point in time, I was so pissed with Collins I even considered running against her in the primary — which I almost certainly would have lost.

But I’m still going to vote for her. Here’s why:

Mainers have various reasons to want someone new representing us in the Senate, and in nine cases out of 10 they have to do with punishing Collins. Some are irate about her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the high court in 2018, and some are livid with her for voting to acquit Trump earlier this year. Others still have been influenced by seeing her parodied on SNL, by The New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz, or simply by the torrent of negative advertising it's become impossible to ignore — she’s in the pocket of the drug companies, or Wall Street super-predators.

My reasons were more parochial still. She sits on a committee that referred me to the Justice Department for prosecution. That stung. But, as with the case of a now-seated Supreme, or a president whose fate is now where it belongs, i.e., before the people, my grievance has its own half-life.

If you peel back the anger, you see what matters most is Maine. To her credit, Collins is a capable senator who has done well for the state in nearly 24 years. I worked for her, as she puts it “briefly and long ago,” but long enough to see her in action. By seeking out assignments like the Aging Committee, she’s put Mainers ahead of glitz and glamor in most instances. She’s a hard worker, more so than many of her peers. And she’s steadily climbed the ranks of Appropriations, which matters to a state like ours.

I really wanted to fall in love with Sara Gideon. After all, I was there when Collins pledged to serve only two terms, and our body politic desperately needs fresh faces. Gideon’s my age, seems very appealing, and according to her ads has been a very bipartisan speaker of the State House. But the questions I can’t answer about her are a) where is the fire in her belly, b) what keeps her up at 2 in the morning, and c) what promise does she offer to catch up for lost time, should she make it to the Senate. These may seem overly ponderous, but I think they matter.

Yet this election, for Margaret Chase Smith’s seat, is not love or hate. It is about practical things, like the cost of home heating oil. As Mainers, we look at things practically, so here is a pragmatic frame for the choice:

If you think Trump is going to win reelection, vote for Gideon. Should another four years be a distinct and imminent possibility, the only way to balance the ship of state is with a Democrat Senate. But if you think Joe Biden is going to win, the case for Collins is clear. Sure, there are a lot of people ticked that she hasn’t stood up to Trump more, but if Trump’s gone, the case for firing Collins loses all steam.

Looking at polls across the country today, control of the Senate is a toss-up, just as the Maine race has been pegged. In a Republican-held scenario, Collins’ seniority will substantially matter. If the coin lands on the other side, given the nature of the Senate, a senior member of the minority far outranks a junior member of the majority. In the rough and tumble game of the pork barrel, another — perhaps final — term for Collins makes sense.

Also one of her “sins,” being the swing vote that confirmed Kavanaugh, is put into new context with her decision not to vote in the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. Had Mitt Romney not pulled the rug out from under her, that principled call would have been definitive. Whether Republicans hold or lose the Senate, there will still be some Republican senators. That being the case, wouldn’t it be better if the moderate Collins were one of them?

At any point in the last two years, were I to write about this race I would have surely excoriated Collins. Almost all of that had to do with her being a symbol of the career politician on her way to becoming like Dianne Feinstein in that video where she berates a group of schoolchildren who wanted to talk to her about the environment. But Collins isn’t there yet, and there are other places on the ballot for lashing out.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.