Last Saturday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), considered a moderate swing voter, fulfilled her promise to vote in favor of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
The Judicial Crisis Network was very pleased.
The dark-money conservative advocacy group, which campaigned for Kavanaugh, announced Tuesday that it is launching a six-figure television and digital ad campaign in Maine to thank Collins for ultimately supporting the judge’s successful Supreme Court bid.
Never mind that part of Collins’ speech last week decried the “dark money” spent on anti-Kavanaugh campaigns.
The Judicial Crisis Network, which spends big in attorneys general races and judicial elections, dropped at least $1.5 million to promote Kavanaugh during his contentious confirmation battle. The group’s new 30-second TV spot on Collins begins with photos of NBC News’ Brian Williams, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and CNN’s Don Lemon as a voiceover says, “Washington is divided more than ever.”
“In the midst of the chaos, one leader stood out,” the narration continues, flashing to a picture of Collins, whom it praises for being “a reasonable voice in Washington.”
As Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote loomed late last week, Collins was one of a handful of senators yet to announce a stance on the judge, whom several women had accused of sexually assaulting and harassing them when they were in high school and college.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted to oppose Kavanaugh, but Collins joined Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and red-state Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) to ensure his confirmation. He was confirmed in a 50-48 vote, one of the narrowest margins in U.S. history.
Collins is now facing a wave of criticism for supporting Kavanaugh. The Judicial Crisis Network’s ad buy will likely do little to protect her seat, given the whopping sum her opponents have raised so far.
Thanks to a crowdfunding effort, the as-yet-undetermined Democratic challenger for Collins’ seat in 2020 has already amassed a war chest of around $3.65 million, as of Tuesday afternoon. Around $1 million of that was raised in the 24 hours after Collins officially sided with the controversial nominee.
The crowdfunding page is steered by activist Ady Barkan, who co-founded the progressive Be A Hero campaign, the Maine People’s Alliance and Mainers for Accountable Leadership. Barkan kicked off the campaign in mid-August to fund Collins’ eventual opponent if she chose to vote for Kavanaugh.
An organizer of the crowdfunding campaign told HuffPost the page will be able to receive donations for an undetermined amount of time.
Collins’ office issued a statement last month dismissing the fundraiser as a bribery attempt.