Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) extinguished any lingering hopes that she might cast the deciding vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon. As she delivered her lengthy speech on the Senate floor, a crowd-funding site created to fund a Democratic challenge to Collins in 2020 crashed.
“This entire process was up to Collins,” says Amy Halsted, co-director of Maine People’s Alliance, which launched the campaign. “And today she did the wrong thing.”
The Crowdpac campaign, which the progressive grassroots organization started with the express purpose of swaying Collins’ vote on the Kavanaugh nomination, had raised more than $2 million before Collins’ speech.
Halsted was listening to Collins on the radio while picking her children up from school. She hadn’t heard, when contacted by Rolling Stone, that the site had crashed under the weight of requests, but she says, “it doesn’t surprise me that the website is crashing because people are mad.”
“This vote is a complete betrayal of Maine voters, of the women who have called her offices, and written letters and organized phone banks and attended rallies and told their very deeply painful stories to her and her staff. I think it’s the end of whatever legacy she has worked so hard to achieve as a moderate,” Halsted ssays. “I don’t think Mainers will forget this vote.”
Collins won reelection in Maine with 67 percent of the vote in 2014, but her home state support has dropped in recent months. A Suffolk University poll in early August found that less than 50 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of the Republican senator, and a Public Policy Polling survey conducted just this week found that more than half of Maine voters thought Kavanaugh’s nomination should be rejected, and 49 percent said they would be less likely to support Collins if she voted to confirm.
Voters, Halsted said, “are ready to support a senator from Maine who is going to stand up for Mainers and do what’s right for the country, regardless of political party — and I think people realize Susan Collins is not that senator.”
Who that senator is remains to be seen. Maine People’s Alliance doesn’t have a candidate in mind — the money will go to whomever the Democratic challenger ultimately is. On Friday, multiple names were already circulating. Among the suggestions: former Marine and current Congressional candidate Jared Golden, sitting Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, and former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, who has a house in the state. Former UN ambassador Susan Rice went ahead and threw her hat in the ring.
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) October 5, 2018
Collins has dismissed the crowd-funding campaign, calling it a “bribe,” and insisting she wouldn’t give in to “quid pro quo fundraising.”
To that, Halsted replies: “Her campaign takes huge corporate donations from special interest groups, so I think that tens of thousands of people pooling small donations, many of just $20, to indicate how passionately they feel about her stance on this vote that could change the course of history feels like democracy to me, not bribery.”
Kavanaugh is expected to be confirmed by the Senate on Saturday.