Romney, Collins and Murkowski say they won't attend GOP convention

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will not attend the GOP convention next month in Florida, aides for the senators confirmed to The Hill.  An aide for Collins noted that she was never planning to attend the GOP convention because she does not go when she herself is up for …

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will not attend the GOP convention next month in Florida, aides for the senators confirmed to The Hill. 

An aide for Collins noted that she was never planning to attend the GOP convention because she does not go when she herself is up for reelection. Collins is in a tight race this year that could be pivotal in determining who holds the Senate majority in the next Congress.

Spokespeople for Romney and Murkowski didn’t immediately respond to follow-up questions about whether their plans were related to the coronavirus as the country sees an increase in cases.

Both senators have had high-profile clashes with Trump; Romney was the only Republican senator to vote to impeach the president earlier this year, while Murkowski opposed ObamaCare’s repeal and Supreme Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. 

Romney declined last month to say who he’s voting for but indicated to The Atlantic in February that he could write in his wife’s name, which is what he did in 2016. 

“I’m not going to be describing who I’ll be voting for, I don’t imagine,” Romney told reporters last month. 

Murkowski, who did not vote for Trump in 2016, told reporters last month that she was “struggling” with whether support him in November. 

The three GOP senators are the latest Republican lawmakers to say this week that they do not plan to attend the convention. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the oldest Republican senator, on Monday became the first to formally say he would skip the gathering. He told Iowa reporters that he would not attend because of the coronavirus. 

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is retiring at the end of the year, also announced Tuesday that he would not attend, with his office saying he was saving delegate spots for people who had not previously gone to a party convention. 

Republicans announced last month that they were moving the main events, including Trump’s speech accepting the party’s nomination, from Charlotte, N.C., to Jacksonville, Fla., amid a break with North Carolina’s governor over whether the convention could go forward without social distancing measures in place. 

Florida is seeing an uptick in its number of coronavirus cases and reported 11,458 new cases on July 4, marking an all-time single-day high. 

Several other GOP senators have indicated that their convention plans are in flux. 

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told a Wisconsin TV station late last week that he hadn’t yet made a decision on attending, adding that he wanted to know “what kind of social distancing, what kind of precautions are being taken.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told Ohio reporters last month that he wanted to “see what the situation is” on the coronavirus before making a decision.

Even as some GOP senators announced that they would not be attending, some of their colleagues confirmed they would attend. 

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that “the leader has every intention of attending.”

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), who was elected to the Senate in 2018, tweeted on Tuesday that he would also be there.

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