POLITICS

Planned Parenthood Endorses Sara Gideon, One Of Susan Collins' Democratic Challengers

It's the first time the organization's political action committee has backed someone running against the Republican senator since 2008.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the reproductive health care organization’s political action committee, has endorsed Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon (D) in the race to unseat U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in 2020.

“As speaker of the Maine House, Sara has been leading the charge for reproductive health care access in Maine,” PPAF said in a press release announcing a wave of endorsements for Democratic Senate candidates.

PPAF acting President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson praised Gideon as “an outspoken leader for the women, LGBTQ communities, and people of color of Maine, and for sexual reproductive health and rights.”

“We were once encouraged by Senator Collins’s support of reproductive rights, yet she has abandoned not only the people of Maine, but women across the country,” she said in a statement.

Though Collins has received Planned Parenthood’s backing in the past, the group’s support for the senator has significantly waned in recent years.

Collins, who bills herself as a pro-choice moderate, nabbed PPAF’s endorsement during her 2002 reelection campaign and was honored with the group’s Barry Goldwater Award in 2017 for being a Republican lawmaker who champions reproductive health care issues.

But her crucial vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018, despite sexual misconduct allegations against him and his anti-abortion leanings, sparked outrage from her progressive constituency. 

Her votes to pass Trump’s tax bill in 2017 and to confirm dozens of Trump’s conservative, anti-abortion federal judicial nominees have also mobilized efforts to unseat her.

“It’s clear that she has turned her back on those she should be championing,” McGill Johnson said in her statement. “Notably, Senator Collins has stood by as this administration continues to stack our federal court system with judges who oppose safe, legal abortion and advances policies that allow discrimination.”

PPAF initially stated in a press release Tuesday that Gideon was the first challenger to Collins it had endorsed. In fact, the group endorsed then-Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) when he challenged Collins in 2008.

“I’m honored to receive [PPAF’s] endorsement ― in the face of attacks on reproductive rights across the country and threats to Roe v. Wade in Washington, there’s never been a more important time to stand up for reproductive rights,” Gideon tweeted Tuesday. 

PPAF’s endorsement is another feather in Gideon’s cap after she gained the support of several high-profile groups, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, EMILY’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Gideon is one of at least eight challengers vying for Collins’ seat in 2020. Betsy Sweet, a women’s rights advocate and former Maine gubernatorial candidate; Ross LaJeunesse, a former Google executive; attorney Bre Kidman; and travel agent Michael Bunker are running as Democrats.

Attorney Tiffany Bond and call center worker Danielle VanHelsing are running as independents while activist Lisa Savage is the Maine Green Independent Party’s candidate.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article, citing a PPAF press release, misstated that Gideon is the first Collins challenger to be endorsed by the group. PPAF has since amended its statement to note that it’s the second time it has endorsed a Collins challenger. The group endorsed then-Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) in 2008.

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