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Democrat Sara Gideon is challenging Maine’s Susan Collins

Gideon is the speaker of the Maine state House

Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins picked up a high-profile Democratic challenger on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Maine state House speaker Sara Gideon is running against Sen. Susan Collins, one of Senate Republicans’ most vulnerable incumbents in 2020. 

The Democrat, who had long been expected to run but was waiting until the end of the legislative session, announced her candidacy in a video Monday morning. 

Susan Collins has been in the Senate for 22 years,” Gideon says, mentioning Collins for the first time nearly two minutes into the video. “And at one point, maybe she was different from some of the other folks in Washington. But she doesn’t seem that way anymore.”

Gideon highlights Collins’ vote for the GOP tax overhaul, and the video includes footage of President Donald Trump thanking Collins. The last thing Gideon mentions is Collins’ vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

Gideon has served in the state legislature since 2012. In her announcement video, she recounts how her husband was asked to run for town council, but she decided it was a job she wanted to do. She ran for the that office and won.

Much of Gideon’s video is about her tenure in public office. She holds up a picture of the former governor. “For too long, Paul LePage tried to stand in the way of getting things done in Maine,” Gideon says in the video, boasting how she brought lawmakers from both parties together to override a veto from LePage.

Gideon represents Freeport and Pownal, both communities in the state’s more liberal 1st District, which Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. Collins lives in Bangor, one of the largest cities in the more rural and conservative 2nd District, which backed Trump in 2016 but flipped to a Democrat at the House level in lat fall’s midterms. 

Gideon joins several other Democrats running for the nomination to take on Collins, including former gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet. Whoever wins the nomination will benefit from millions of dollars in a Crowdpac fund that activists have amassed for Collins’ eventual challenger since she announced her support for Kavanaugh. Collins ended the first fundraising quarter of the year with $3.9 million in the bank.

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