Sen. Susan Collins (R) drew another Democratic opponent yesterday. Retired Air Force Major General Jon Treacy announced his US Senate candidacy, joining state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) and former gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet in the primary campaign.
The Maine primary will be decided June 9th, after a March 16th candidate filing deadline. Gen. Treacy will certainly start out substantially behind Ms. Gideon in the money race. She attracted $1.059 million in just her first few days of campaigning post her late June announcement. The general election looks to be competitive, but Sen. Collins begins in a clear favorite position.
As the Maine special legislative session was ending yesterday, the state Senate passed a bill and sent to Gov. Janet Mills (D) a measure that would add the Ranked Choice Voting system to the presidential primary ballot. Maine, like several other states, is moving from a caucus system to a primary and will join 13 other states in voting on Super Tuesday, March 3rd.
Ranked Choice Voting is a system that allows voters to rank their candidate choices, and certain individuals will have their multiple votes counted if the first-place finisher only receives a plurality of the vote. The system’s purpose is to guarantee that a candidate will exceed 50%.
In a presidential primary, however, when delegates are apportioned on a percentage basis with a 15% qualifying factor, it is unclear how the RCV would affect the apportionment process. If signed into law, we could see a credentials challenge at the Democratic National Convention from certain candidates who fail to receive as many delegates under Ranked Choice Voting as they would from the original vote.
Former Maine Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R), who lost in November after the state’s Ranked Choice Voting system changed his close victory into a close loss against current Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston), says he will not seek a re-match next year but claims he is “itching” to run again. Mr. Poliquin cited needing to care for his elderly parents as his reasoning for not running in 2020 but would consider a 2022 campaign either for the 2nd District or Governor.
In the current congressional race for the GOP is 2018 US Senate nominee Eric Brakey, a former state Senator. Mr. Brakey fared poorly in the statewide campaign, losing to incumbent Sen. Angus King (I-ME), 53-35%. President Trump carried this district 51-41% in 2016 and will need to win it again next year. Maine is one of two states that awards electoral votes based upon congressional districts won.
A day after state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) announced her Senate candidacy, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership officially endorsed her effort. Though three others turned the DSCC down, it looks like the party now has a credible opponent for four-term Sen. Susan Collins (R). Also in the Democratic race is former gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet, but it is now obvious that the endorsements and resources will begin to fall in line behind Ms. Gideon.
On their fourth try in attempting to recruit a strong challenger against Sen. Susan Collins (R), the Democratic leadership convinced state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) to join the campaign. Though Ms. Gideon should be a credible opponent for Sen. Collins, the party heads unsuccessfully tried to convince three others to enter the race before turning to their present recruit. Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/Portland), Jared Golden (D-Lewiston), and ex-state House Speaker Hannah Pingree, Rep. Pingree’s daughter, all declined to run. At this point, Sen. Collins is favored to win a fifth term.
After a series of turndowns from Democrats who the party leadership was attempting to recruit into the 2020 Senate race in order to oppose Republican incumbent Susan Collins (R), two individuals appear to be surfacing. State House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) is indicating she will announce her candidacy when the Maine legislative session ends at the end of next week. Activist lobbyist Betsy Sweet, who finished fourth in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary, is also expected to soon become a Senatorial candidate.
Maine US Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/ Portland) says she “doubts” that she or her daughter, former state House Speaker Hannah Pingree (D), will challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R) next year. In addition to Rep. Pingree’s comments, neither woman appears to be constructing a statewide campaign nor raising money to support such an operation. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had hoped to recruit either Pingree into the 2020 race.
The DSCC leadership also made overtures to freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston). With the Congressman declaring for re-election last week, it appears none of the party’s top three choices will enter the race. At this point, Sen. Collins appears in strong position for re-election.
Former state Sen. Eric Brakey (R), who challenged Sen. Angus King (I) last year and lost 53-35%, is expressing interest in opposing freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) in 2020. He also plans to meet with former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R), who has not yet decided whether he will run again. Mr. Brakey indicated that he did not envision a scenario where he and Mr. Poliquin would oppose each other for the Republican nomination.
To the surprise of very few, freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) has officially eschewed overtures that he challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R), and announced he will run for re-election to his 2nd District House seat.
Mr. Golden was elected through the state’s controversial Ranked Choice Voting system, an instant run-off that gives people who supported losing candidates extra votes. The original election count found Golden losing to then-Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) by two percentage points, but the Congressman had only plurality support. When the Ranked Choice votes were added to the mix, from those voting only for the losing candidates, Mr. Golden was able to cobble together a majority coalition.
Earlier, we commented that Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/Portland) was giving no indication that she would challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R) next year, and now we have more tangible evidence to support such a conclusion.
Complying with yesterday’s campaign finance disclosure deadline, Rep. Pingree reports only raising $26,000 for the first quarter of this year and holding $232,000 in her campaign account. These are hardly numbers one would expect from a serious potential Senate candidate, especially when Sen. Collins holds $3.8 million in her campaign account.
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