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Obama endorses challenger to Maine's Susan Collins, under fire for Kavanaugh confirmation vote

David Knowles
·Editor

Former President Barack Obama released a list of endorsements for the 2020 elections on Monday that included Democratic Senate candidate Sara Gideon, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. The race could help decide which party controls the Senate for at least the next two years.

“Our country’s future hangs on this election, and it won’t be easy. But pandemics have a way of cutting through a lot of noise and spin to remind us of what is real, and what is important,” Obama said in a statement that accompanied his endorsement of 51 candidates for the House and five for the Senate. “Elections matter. And we need Americans of all political stripes to get involved in our politics and our public life like never before.”

Gideon is the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, and the two most recent polls (by Colby College and Public Policy Polling) of her race against Collins show her with a 5-point lead.

Collins, a moderate, pro-choice Republican who was elected to the Senate in 1996, has drawn the ire of Democrats for her votes in favor of President Trump’s tax cuts as well as her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice, based on her understanding that he would abide by precedent in cases involving the right to abortion.

Although the foundational ruling on abortion, Roe v. Wade, has not come up directly before the Supreme Court since Kavanaugh joined, in June he sided with the minority of conservative justices who voted to uphold a Louisiana law that would have made abortions virtually impossible to perform in that state. The court overturned the law in a 5-4 decision.

Collins said she agreed with the majority but has not repudiated Kavanaugh, insisting that “he gave no indication in his dissenting opinion that he supports overturning Roe.”

Since winning one of Maine’s four electoral votes in the 2016 election — the state is one of two that provide for split electoral slates — Trump’s approval rating in the state has fallen to just 36 percent, according to polling by Civiqs. Collins has been all but silent on Trump’s reelection. Gideon, meanwhile, has been doing her best to link the two politicians.

While the race has been relatively mild-mannered given the hyperpartisan environment seen across the country, Collins has also attacked her opponent for accepting donations from liberals and independents energized to support Gideon.

The Cook Political Report rates the race between Collins and Gideon as a “toss-up.”

In order to retake control of the Senate, Democrats will need to flip three seats in November and win the White House (or four seats if Trump is reelected).

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