During the eight-year reign of Gov. Paul LePage, very few people stood up to the Bully of the Blaine House.

Members of his own party who tried seemed to disappear. Members of the loyal opposition who opposed him were subject to profanity and ridicule. Two people who did stand up to LePage were then-Attorney General Janet Mills and Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, D-Freeport.

Now that Janet Mills is governor and things in Augusta have seemingly returned to normalcy, it’s good to remember that most people in Augusta are reasonable people who want to do right by Maine people. Sara Gideon is one of those people.

On the few occasions that I have met and talked to Gideon, I found her to be engaged, a problem solver and not overly partisan. Just the kind of person we need representing Maine in the U.S. Senate.

Gideon is one of four candidates who have announced they will take on Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. Two are unknowns, and Betsy Sweet is a well-known lobbyist and activist, but I am putting my money on Gideon.

Collins has never been so vulnerable. Sister Sue from Caribou has watched her popularity plunge in the wake of her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Since the first quarter of 2019, Collins’ approval rating has dropped 16 points. She has the second-lowest approval rating of any U.S. senator, behind only Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. Our junior senator, Democrat Angus King, is the most popular senator in the nation.

You have to be pretty low to rank with a snake in the grass like  McConnell. Collins’ supporters attribute her fall from grace to sustained attacks from Democrats and progressives, just the sort of thing Hilary Clinton faced. What comes around goes around.

Collins has managed to sell herself as a bipartisan independent, able to work across the aisle to accomplish the people’s business. Yet Collins only votes against her party when it doesn’t matter. It’s almost as though she asks McConnell’s permission to place an occasional dissenting vote.

Ironically, Collins’ support of the Republican agenda has never been as strong as it has been since Donald Trump was elected President. She supported Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and getting rid of the individual mandate of Obamacare. When she claimed to have secured promises from McConnell to protect the most vulnerable, McConnell made her look like a sucker.

During the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, she had a chance to cement her legacy with her own Margaret Chase Smith Declaration of Conscience. But she blew it; Collins has never voted against a Supreme Court nominee, so it wasn’t just her support that angered Mainers. It was her self-righteous rationale for her vote. And her tone-deaf assertion that we must believe women who come forward with stories of abuse, even as she voted not to believe.

Although she has a substantial campaign war chest, Collins is not going to get to redeem herself unless she rejects the Trump-LePage white nationalist nasties who now control the GOP. Collins would be better off retiring before she does her girl-next-door reputation any more damage.

And she can rest assured, Maine will be in good hands with U.S. Sen. Sara Gideon.


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