Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) refused to budge on her controversial support for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation last year, and now the consequences of that decision may be coming home to roost.
In an interview with Politico published Monday, the senator acknowledged that her 2020 reelection bid will inevitably be affected by her decision to vote for Kavanaugh after Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, but Collins stood behind that choice.
“Have I lost some votes because of my decision to support Justice Kavanaugh? Yes, I have. And I’m sad about that because I explained in great depth my decision-making,” she said before adding that there is still “an appreciation in Maine for someone who looks at the facts of an issue, votes with integrity and independence.”
Collins, known as a moderate, was once untouchable in Maine politics, handily winning her 2014 reelection with just over 68% of the vote.
But as 2020 looms, it is increasingly clear that it will not be smooth sailing for Collins this time. She faces a Republican challenger in the primary and last week, The Cook Political Report adjusted its Senate election forecast for the state from “lean Republican” to “toss up,” indicating there’s diminished confidence in Collins’ potential to win.
Meanwhile, Maine’s Democratic state House speaker, Sara Gideon, who announced in June that she was running in the Democratic primary for senator, has attempted to use some of Collins’ decisions, such as her endorsement of Kavanaugh, to portray her as a partisan figure.
“At one point, maybe she was different than some of the other folks in Washington, but she doesn’t seem that way anymore,” Gideon said in a campaign announcement video, adding that Collins’ “vote to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court may be paying off for her, but it’s put women’s control over their own health care decisions in extreme jeopardy.”
Attorney Bre Kidman, another Democratic primary candidate, was one of dozens of Mainers who flew to Washington in an effort to persuade the senator not to vote for the justice last year.
Collins raised $1.8 million in the last quarter of 2018 following Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but only $19,000 of it came from Maine residents. In contrast, Kavanaugh supporters donated $32,000 to Collins, according to a review from liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Gideon as Collins’ Democratic challenger. Kidman, Gideon, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Jonathan Treacy have all entered Maine’s Democratic primary.