Maine Democrat Challenging Susan Collins Outraises GOP Senator by Millions

The frontrunner in Maine's upcoming Democratic primary has managed to outraise Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who has held office since 1997, by millions.

Looking at updated fundraising reports submitted before a Thursday deadline set by the federal government, The Bangor Daily News found that Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, Collins' leading rival, has outraised the U.S. senator by nearly $7 million.

According to the fundraising reports, Gideon managed to raise more than $8 million during the pre-primary period, bringing her up to more than $22 million in total funds raised. The House speaker spent a total of $7.2 million during that period, leaving her with $5.5 million in cash on hand.

Meanwhile, Collins raised $3 million during the pre-primary period, bringing her fundraising total this cycle up to more than $16 million.

During the pre-primary period, she spent $3.6 million, according to the filings, leaving her campaign with $5 million in cash on hand, less than Gideon.

The U.S. Senate race has shaped up to be the most expensive in the state's history. Previously, the most expensive campaign had been Collins' 2008 race against then-U.S. Rep. Tom Allen.

If Gideon's anticipated victory in Maine's upcoming Democratic primary race come to fruition, she is expected to get another injection of cash from donations raised by activists determined to see Collins unseated after she voted in favor of putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

With Kavanaugh facing multiple sexual misconduct allegations and with many pro-abortion advocates fearing the judge's appointment could spell the end of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established the right to abortion in the United States, Collins' decision to vote in favor of his confirmation earned her clear enemies.

And so far, the "Fund Susan Collins' Future Opponent" online fundraiser, which was established on Crowdpac by activist groups Be A Hero Team, Maine People's Alliance and Mainers for Accountable Leadership, has seen just over $4 million raised from 130,108 donations in an effort to see her removed from office.

"Senator Collins betrayed the public trust when she voted in favor of Kavanaugh's confirmation," the fundraiser states. "For failing to stand up for the people of Maine and ignoring the voices of your constituents, and for endangering the lives of millions of Americans, we will work to elect a new senator to represent the State of Maine."

In a statement sent to Newsweek, Kevin Kelley, a spokesperson for Collins' campaign, countered that many residents of Maine are appreciative of the work the senator has done, particularly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Maine legislature didn't meet one day during this entire quarter-not once in the midst of a health and economic crisis," Kelley pointed out.

"It's clear where Speaker Sara Gideon's priorities are. Sara spent the past 107 days calling out-of-state billionaires, raising money for her Senate campaign, while Maine's unemployment system cratered. Thousands of Maine people lost their jobs and they still can't get help from the state," the spokesperson said.

"Meantime, Senator Collins authored the Paycheck Protection Program-helping nearly three quarters of Maine's small employers, bringing $2.2 billion to our state, and supporting about 200,000 jobs," Kelley noted. "Maine people appreciate that Susan Collins has been on the job."

Before Gideon can attempt to unseat Collins, she must first face the upcoming July 14 primary, in which the Democratic candidate will go up against lobbyist Betsy Sweet, who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars this cycle, and lawyer Bre Kidman, who has made a point of skipping fundraising efforts to focus on coronavirus relief, which they have suggested other candidates should be doing as well.

Newsweek has contacted Gideon's campaign team for comment.

Correction 08/07/2020: A previous version of this article identified Bre Kidman with the pronoun "she". This has been corrected to "they." This article has also been updated with a statement from Sen. Collins' campaign team.

Susan Collins
Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, listens during a Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee hearing in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty