Sara Gideon Wins Maine Democratic Senate Primary, Sen. Susan Collins Challenges Her To 16 Debates
Gideon had secured 70.2% of the vote, with 95% of precincts reporting. In her victory speech broadcast live on Facebook, she emphasized the need to boot out Collins, saying she has “enabled and excused [President Donald Trump’s] attacks on democracy.”
“After 24 years in Washington, Sen. Collins has become part of that broken system, putting special interests and her political party first,” Gideon said. “And Mainers know it and feel it.”
Regarded as a swing vote, Collins has upset both political parties with some of her votes. She voted to confirm the controversial Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, despite allegations of sexual assault. She voted to hear witness testimony during the Senate impeachment trial, but ultimately voted to acquit the president. She has previously supported GOP tax cut bills, but opposed GOP legislation to roll back Obamacare and loosen regulations for insurance companies covering preexisting conditions.
Her wish-washy votes and frequent indecision have caused her to become the most-disliked senator, according to a Morning Consult poll tracker released quarterly.
Recent polls indicate that Gideon is slightly favored over Collins, a veteran senator who’s been in office since 1997.
A July 2-3 survey of 1,022 likely voters conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 42% supported Collins and 46% favored Gideon.
The chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) celebrated the win in a statement.
“In the Senate, Sara will continue to build on her impressive record of fighting for Maine’s hardworking families by bringing down health care costs, tackling the opioid crisis, and boosting economic opportunity through tax relief, job training and education,” she said. “Mainers will have a champion in Sara, and we look forward to continuing to support her campaign to victory.”
In response to Gideon’s win, Collins challenged the Democratic contender to a series of 16 debates – meaning, on average, one a week until the election.
“I want to congratulate you on becoming the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, and welcome you to the campaign. Earlier today, your campaign spokesperson distributed a press release calling for five debates,” Collins wrote in a letter. “While I share the sentiment outlined in your press release that Mainers deserve the opportunity to compare us directly before they decide how they’ll vote, I believe five debates is far too limited a schedule for such an important race. To that end, I propose that we have 16 live, televised, in-person debates, one in each of Maine’s counties. Let’s have the first one tonight.”
Gideon was unfazed by the challenge, and told The Hill in a statement that she was “looking forward to sharing the stage with Senator Collins.”
“I’m looking forward to sharing the stage with Senator Collins, that’s why we were the first to propose debates this morning at the start of the general election,” Gideon said. “Over the past year, I’ve traveled across the state to hold open forums and answer questions from Mainers in all 16 counties – something Senate Collins hasn’t done since she was elected 24 years ago.”
She continued, “It’s important for Mainers to have the opportunity to hear our different visions for how Maine’s senator should be working for Maine people, and I’m pleased that we’ve begun the process of scheduling debates.”