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Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon Announces Bid To Unseat Collins

Jay Field
Maine Public/file
Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon at a press event March 5, 2015.

Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon is announcing her bid to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in 2020.  The Freeport Democrat announced her candidacy in a press statement and video that attempted to portray Collins as out of touch with Mainers.“Maybe at one point she was really different from others in Washington D.C. but it doesn’t seem that way anymore,” says Gideon.

Gideon, currently serving her second term as House Speaker in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, highlighted Collins's controversial vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court, a vote that Democrats argue has endangered a woman's right to an abortion.

Gideon will have to win a Decmoratic party primary in order to take on Collins in the fall of 2020. State House lobbyist Betsy Sweet, who finished third in last year's Democratic gubernatorial primary, is also in the race, as is Bre Kidman, a lawyer from Saco.

Gideon says she is confident that she can raise the money needed to win the primary and defeat Collins. “So I think of this as an 18 month opportunity to talk to Mainers and to meet them where they are at, and to really understand and build a campaign that is built on people and Mainers first,” she says.

Collins has not officially announced her reelection bid. Maine's senior senator has fended off previous challenges, but Democrats think she's vulnerable following her Kavanaugh vote, and because President Donald Trump could be a drag on Republicans in purple states like Maine.

In a statement, the National Republican Senate Committee described Gideon as a radical leftist.

Kevin Kelley, spokesman for Collins' campaign, said in a statement that Democrats won't pick their nominee until next year and that Collins will continue to work on behalf of Mainers in the interim.

“One of the reasons why Senator Collins has been so effective is that she has more seniority than any U.S. Senator from Maine over the past 70 years," Kelley said. "She will continue to build on her record of extraordinary accomplishments for the people of Maine.”

Updated 4:10 p.m. June 24, 2019