ME-Sen: Slate Magazine, “How Maine Turned on Susan Collins (R)”

Slate Magazine has a new piece out about the upcoming U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R. ME) and Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (D. ME):

Six years ago, Karin Leuthy, a registered Democrat, voted for Republican Sen. Susan Collins. Like many Mainers, Leuthy, 48, took pride in not voting a straight party ticket that year. “I thought it was really important to have women in the Senate who were Republican, who were pro-choice, who would protect reproductive rights and be a check to the men in the Republican Party,” Leuthy said.

Leuthy lives in Camden, a coastal town with a picturesque harbor and a ski area that hosts a national toboggan championship every year. Her daughter raises sheep, which they board at a nearby farm. In 2014, when she last voted for Collins, Leuthy was an avid news consumer and regular voter, but not an activist. She admired Olympia Snowe, Maine’s long-serving Republican senator who retired in 2012 out of frustration with Senate partisanship. “Snowe was very thoughtful. She was straightforward. And she had a way of working in a diplomatic fashion that I think a lot of Mainers really appreciated,” Leuthy said. “I thought Susan Collins was going to serve in an Olympia Snowe model. I was very wrong. Very wrong.”

Ask a handful of Maine Democrats for their thoughts on Collins’ current reelection campaign, and you’re likely to hear at least a few stories that mirror Leuthy’s. At a late-February bean supper in Skowhegan hosted by Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives and now Collins’ Democratic challenger, I talked to more than a dozen attendees. Some lived in the 8,500-person town in central Maine; others had traveled to the steelworkers’ union hall from up to an hour away. They were mostly registered Democrats—some committed to Gideon, some still considering her primary opponents. Almost all of them had voted for Collins in previous elections. None planned to do so again.

Give the whole piece a read. Meanwhile, Gideon is running on her record and her priorities in the Senate:

Gideon has outflanked Gov. Janet Mills, a fellow Democrat, on issues from gun control to a carbon tax in Augusta. During her campaign, she has indicated openness to removing the Senate filibuster, a move that could pave the way for her party to pass a public-option health care plan she also backs if they wrest control of the chamber from Republicans.

The candidate has harnessed progressive fury against Collins after the senator’s 2018 vote for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh with record fundraising and a narrow lead in polling this year. Gideon does not shy away from discussing her legislative record, juxtaposing herself with Collins while using some Collins-like messaging around crossing the aisle.

She highlights a bill she sponsored letting more medical professionals perform abortions. She knocks Collins on her vote for a 2017 tax bill that could undo the Affordable Care Act, though the incumbent also opposed repealing the law that year. Gideon then points to her bill codifying many of those health care protections in state law. That was bipartisan; the abortion bill was not.

Let’s keep up the momentum to flip Maine Blue. Click below to donate and get involved with Gideon, Biden and their fellow Maine Democrats campaigns:

Sara Gideon

Joe Biden

Jared Golden