Sensing the lack of a Democratic candidate willing to challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine), a "queer feminist mermaid" named Bre Kidman—politically mobilized by the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fight—has filed to enter the race.
Collins has represented Maine in the Senate since 1997, and each of her three reelection fights have ended with double-digit margin victories. But Democrats responded to her deciding vote to confirm Kavanaugh by vowing to make her run for a fifth term a real challenge, expecting a crowded field of candidates to step up to the plate.
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That hasn't materialized.
The first Democratic candidate to file for the race is Kidman, currently a part-time attorney and active artist in the community, and it was a bit of an accident.
"My launch came out from under me—I didn't realize people were watching the filings so closely," Kidman told the Washington Free Beacon after the filing was reported by the local Sun Journal.
The first-time politician decided to run after training from the Victory Institute, which runs programs for potential LGBTQ candidates. Kidman hopes to be the first gender nonbinary queer elected to the U.S. Senate.
On Facebook, Kidman is described as a "criminal defense attorney by day and radical fat queer/performance artist/model/musician/activist most other times." On Spotify, Kidman is "Bee Kay Esq." and the biography is the same. Five songs with collaborator Mr. Gadget use "inhuman instruments to give voice to human vulnerability with beats that invite just enough dancing to feel slightly less dead."
On the website for the Maine Educationalists on Sexual Harmony (MESH), Kidman is described as a "queer feminist lawyer, mermaid, writer, activist, and artist."
Mermaid is "an artistic identity, not a serious identity," Kidman said. "I'm a playful person, I'm not going to pretend I'm all serious all the time, because I'm not. I'm mermaid-esque in nature."
Kidman decided not to erase traces of work done outside the legal field from the internet and is proud of it.
"I could have deleted the MESH page, I could have deleted my Spotify account, but I didn't because I'm proud of the work that I've done," Kidman said. "Building a better culture has been my passion project for years, and I'm going to continue doing that for the rest of my life."
"I'm not the kind of person you'd expect to see running for office," Kidman said. "I want people to look at the election and see that the type of person that's always running for office doesn't always have to be one type of person."
Kidman's work at MESH includes putting on Rocky Horror Picture Show performances to teach consent, a body positive fashion show, and sex education through burlesque.
"I'm not hiding them for a reason," Kidman said. "All the work I've done has been in the interest of helping people make their life work better, and I don't think that's in contrast with a run for office."
Kidman's work to lay the groundwork for a successful campaign is just getting started, but a meeting with the Democratic Party of Maine is on the schedule.
Kidman says there hasn't been any communication with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but Kidman would be open to a meeting despite philosophical disagreements.
"I haven't reached out on a national level—some of that is strategic and some of that is frustration," Kidman said. "I'm running as a Democrat, but that's not without frustration with the two-party system and how it's been run."
"It's a balance between how much do you want the resources this party can give you and how much do you want to take a stand for what you believe in? We're seeing a trend of partisanship over people, and that's what motivated me to do this," Kidman said.
On the resources front, Kidman is counting on millions of dollars in already-raised crowdsourced funds that will automatically go to whoever wins the nomination to face Collins.
"I do think I can be competitive in the primary and the general, and party support would make it easier, which is why I decided to join the party system," Kidman said. "Maine is in a unique situation, because a lot of people donated to a crowd-fund that will go to the Democratic nominee."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D., N.Y.) goal to gain control of the upper chamber may hinge on his ability to compete in Maine. Republicans grew their Senate majority in 2018.
The DSCC did not respond to an email with inquiries on Kidman.