Maine Senator Susan Collins was once hailed as the voice of reason and bipartisanship, but her capitulation to Donald Trump has all but ended that view of her among constituents. In an exclusive report by the Boston Globe, constituents said that they are ready to fight Collins because of her disavowal of their voices — especially as, despite being a woman, she confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
In fact, it was Collins’ seemingly moderate temperament that won her votes across the aisle. Even longtime registered Democrats would vote for Collins in her repeated re-election bids, which has helped her gain a reputation as a level-headed leader for 22 years in Washington.
But not unlike a number of things that have changed under the leadership of Donald Trump, the constituents’ faith in Collins has subsided significantly.
Pam Cunningham, a Democrat who voted for Collins last time, said that it was the Maine senator’s vote confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that completely galvanized left-leaning activists like her.
“I used to think that she was kind of a voice of reason. I thought she could maybe go across the aisle and get some things done,” said Cunningham.
“I don’t think that she’s taken any brave stances against her party,” another constituent, Ariel Linet, said.
“I think she’s hemmed and hawed a lot and ultimately always toed the party line.”
Now Democrats are so angry with Collins’ capitulation that they are actively working towards unseating her in 2020. To this end, they have already raised $3.8 million for her opponent — who has not even been named.
When Trump won the presidency, Maine constituents still thought that Collins would provide checks for an untethered president. But it was the steps she took like confirming Kavanaugh — among other decisions where she ultimately sided with the GOP — that convinced them that Collins was not the leader she once was.
“The Maine electorate has had it with her not voting with the majority of her constituents,” said Amy Halsted, co-director of the Maine People’s Alliance. “They no longer believe her claims to be a moderate.”
With the Democrats now holding the governor’s office, Senate, and House in Maine, the optimism of left-leaning activists is high that Collins can finally be unseated. They are not only blaming her for her own votes now, but also those of Kavanaugh. As reported by the Huffington Post, when Kavanaugh dissented on an abortion rights case this month, Demand Justice, a judicial advocacy group, launched a digital ad targeting Collins and warning, “We Won’t Forget.”
This feeling of outright denouncement by her constituents is something Collins may experience for the first time, as noted by Brian Duff, a political scientist and associate professor at the University of New England in Maine, and he insists there is something about her decisions to support Trump that has completely re-calibrated the state’s politics.
“I do think she’s uniquely vulnerable this go-round,” he said.