ROCKPORT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Senator Collins ended months of speculation Friday, announcing she will stay in the U.S. Senate and won’t run for Governor. Collins revealed her decision to a morning audience of the Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce Rockport.

The decision means there will now be a wide-open race for Governor, with no clear front-runners at this time. For Collins, it means she will continue to work to find a compromise on major issues in Washington. She began her comments Friday morning by talking about the increasing “hyper-partisanship” in the Congress, especially with the debate over replacing or fixing ObamaCare.

“We must stop allowing partisanship to be a pre-existing condition that prevents meaningful health care reform,” Collins said.

FULL INTERVIEW: One-on-one with Collins

Collins defended her decisions to oppose the Republican Obamacare reform effort. She said those plans would have hurt Maine by reducing the amount of Medicaid money coming into the state. And she said that, as much as she would like the chance to be Maine’s Governor, the many national issues and the chance to help Maine in the Senate make her want to continue working in Washington.

NBC's Chuck Todd weighs in on the Collins decision

“And I have concluded,” said Collins, ”that the best way that I can contribute to these priorities is to remain a member of the United States Senate.”

That comment was greeted by a prolonged standing ovation, which Collins later said reinforced her decision.

The Brew Crew - Collins is out

Collins will return to her duties in Washington, with three years remaining in her term. The Governor’s race will go on, currently with three Republicans in the primary and at least one more candidate expected to join that race. Nine Democrats are currently running, along with several Green and independents and one Libertarian. Collins said she is relieved to have the issue settled. But will she have regrets?

“I don’t think so,” she said during an interview with NEWS CENTER. ”I thought so long and hard about this. I understand why you would ask that question but I’m truly at peace with my decision.”