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Experts See Maine Sen. Collins' Race with Gideon as Toss-up


Friday, July 17, 2020   

AUGUSTA, Maine - Longtime Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is facing her toughest reelection campaign yet. She's running against Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon of Freeport, who won the Democratic primary this week.

The Cook Political Report calls Maine one of the closest Senate races, and it's also become the most expensive in the state's history. American Government Professor Sandy Maisel at Colby College thinks he knows why Senator Collins' approval rating is less than 40%, when it used to be in the high 60s.

"She lost it, frankly, by key votes on important Trump initiatives," says Maisel. "Particularly his tax plan, the nomination of Justice Kavanaugh, and the vote on impeachment."

Collins, one of the last centrist Republicans, voted with President Donald Trump on these three issues, most critically in confirming Justice Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. But Collins has been in the Senate for 24 years, and Gideon is still an unknown on the national political scene.

University of Maine Political Science Professor Mark Brewer notes that Sara Gideon's track record in the Maine House has been largely liberal, although she won the primary as the most moderate Democratic candidate. Brewer says it would benefit Sen. Collins if she can help get more stimulus money through the U.S. Senate.

"The Senator herself is teasing that they're going to be able to get that done, right? So, I think that's going to be something that's going to play into this race, too," says Brewer. "The Paycheck Protection Program has been hugely important for a number of, not just Mainers, but Americans."

He adds that Collins helped write the Paycheck Protection Program. However, Brewer thinks the Gideon campaign could have the edge if it can convince enough voters that Collins has changed during the Trump era.

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