Dems Fail to Unseat Top Kavanaugh Backer Susan Collins

Maine Republican wins despite $70 million Democratic push

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November 4, 2020

Republican senator Susan Collins won a tough reelection campaign in Maine, beating out well-funded Democratic rival Sara Gideon on Tuesday.

Gideon called Collins to concede on Wednesday afternoon after the Republican took a 51-42 lead with 85 percent of precincts reporting. The AP has yet to declare a winner in the race, but Collins holds a comfortable lead even as Democrat Joe Biden won the state 52-44. The Republican victory in a Senate race that pollsters saw as favorable for Democrats has thrown cold water on Democratic ambitions to secure control of the upper chamber.

Democrats attacked Collins's decision to vote in favor of confirming Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, using the vote to solicit support from liberal megadonors. The strategy worked to an extent, helping Gideon bring in nearly $70 million this cycle, more than double the money Collins raised. Gideon's campaign, however, faced repeated allegations that the candidate broke campaign finance rules and struggled to explain compromising votes from her divisive four-year tenure as the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.

The Democrat's campaign, launched in June 2019, got off to a rocky start when the Washington Free Beacon reported that Gideon illegally used money from her leadership PAC to compensate herself for personal donations to congressional candidate Emily Cain, prompting the state's ethics watchdog to levy a fine. Cain went on to become executive director of pro-abortion EMILY's List—one of Gideon's top donors in 2020. The candidate also faced questions about her time in the Maine legislature after it emerged that Gideon killed two attempts to prohibit female genital mutilation in Maine and squashed an ethics probe into how she handled allegations that one of her Democratic colleagues sexually abused teen girls.

This will be Collins's fifth term in the U.S. Senate.