After a hotly contested Senate race in the state of Maine, incumbent Sen. Susan Collins has once again secured her seat in the U.S. Senate against Democratic candidate Sara Gideon. Collins is in her fifth term as a Maine senator. As of this moment, the Senate majority remains in favor of the Republican Party.
The election results were finalized on Nov. 4, with Collins securing her win at 51.1% of the vote, and Gideon with 42.3%. Independent candidates Lisa Savage and Max Linn accounted for 5% and 1.7% of the votes respectively. Gideon conceded the election to Collins on Nov. 4, and thanked her supporters via Instagram.
“I’m proud of the campaign we ran. Together we built a movement that will help us make progress for years to come,” Gideon wrote, hinting toward a promising future for Maine Democrats despite the loss.
Gideon had previously served as a Maine state representative for District 48 since the year 2012. Her platform heavily involved battling climate change, and raising taxes on larger corporations. Her views also align with pro-LGBTQ rights and affordable health care.
One of Gideon’s supporters shared their reaction to the election results.
“I was surprised that she was as far behind as she ended up being because she seemed popular. And national media has been haranguing Susan Collins and her approval plummeted, but I’m not totally surprised that Susan Collins won,” Connor Bolduc, a third-year student at UMaine and a resident of Maine, commented on his reaction to the results.
Bolduc also noted that Collins’ decision on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court may have had some influence on undecided voters. Bodluc was asked whether he felt that this race for the Senate could indicate some sort of future for a Democrat being elected to the Senate.
“I think eventually, but I think based on this election it’ll be awhile before that actually happens,” Bolduc said, adding that Collins would likely have to retire before her seat would be taken by a Democratic candidate.
Collins’ history of breaking from the GOP on key votes and four terms in office made her a popular choice for Mainers who were already familiar with her platform. Collins self-identifies as a Republican senator but has endorsed policies and views that have been championed by Democratic senators and representatives. Collins is the only Republican who sponsored The Equality Act, which was passed on May 17, 2019. The bill protects people from discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in public areas. The bill broadens the definition of public accommodations to places that provide transportation services, goods, services or programs, or places where people gather, enjoy amusement and view exhibitions or displays. People cannot be denied access to a restroom or dressing room that aligns with their gender identity, and the Department of Justice has the ability to intervene to ensure everyone is given equal protections in federal court. Although Collins has reached across the aisle to support the LGBTQ community, some have criticized other actions she has taken which would work against protecting LGBTQ individuals.
Collins has been criticized for supporting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court back in 2018. This nomination allowed Kavanaugh to secure a seat on the bench after the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Although in June the Supreme Court ruled that employers cannot fire their employees for identifying as LGBTQ, Kavanaugh dissented in this case. He was one of three justices who did not agree with the ruling, according to this NBC News article. Kavanaugh has also dissented in cases that surround a woman’s right to choose, which led Collins to receive more criticism in the public eye. It appears that the once centrist senator has become more conservative in recent years.
As Collins accepts a fifth term representing Maine in the Senate, election results are still being tallied in Georgia, and the future of the U.S. Senate is not completely clear. As it stands currently, Republicans hold the Senate majority at 48 seats, compared to the Democrats who hold 46 seats. The next Maine senator up for reelection is Sen. King, who will be running for reelection in 2024.