It was my true honor to serve the people of Maine for three terms in the House and three terms in the U.S. Senate. In each of the six elections I ran in and won, there was certainly a spirited discussion of competing ideas and policies, but those campaigns were conducted within Maine’s traditional approach of fairness, civility and honesty.  Blatant lies were not tolerated, and false attacks on a candidate’s personal integrity were virtually non-existent.

In the Senate race in Maine this year, Sara Gideon’s campaign has evidently abandoned Maine’s traditional approach to campaigning in favor of the use of false and misleading claims.

I happened to see an ad by the Gideon campaign that impugns the integrity of both Sen. Susan Collins and her husband by falsely suggesting that her Senate vote on a particular piece of legislation in 2011 directly benefited his business interests.

This claim is laughably absurd. The bill in question, repealing a tax on all 3.2 million government contractors, passed the Senate 95-0 and passed the House 422-0 – not exactly a carefully crafted “special benefit” for any particular individual.

I trust that Maine people will see through these dishonest tactics. But as we have seen with the Trump campaign, the Gideon campaign approach cynically suggests that a lie told often enough will begin to resemble the truth by sheer repetition.

I have known Susan Collins and her family for 50 years. Susan is a person of deep integrity. Her family has been a respected part of the broader community of Maine since the 1840s. Maine has known Susan as our senator for 24 years. Even when Maine people don’t always agree with her, they respect the process by which she reaches a judgment. And I have known her husband, Tom Daffron, who once served as my chief of staff, for as long as I have known Susan. He too is a person of honor and character.

In this election, I am enthusiastically supporting Joe Biden and Susan Collins, as I believe many people in Maine will do. I urge Maine voters to reject the Trump-style “big lie” tactics of the Gideon campaign. The approach taken by her campaign is entirely inconsistent with the character required in a United States senator.

Adlai Stevenson once said it was important to win, but it was more important to win without engaging in conduct that shows you are unworthy of winning. By her use of the false and misleading ads with which she is advancing her candidacy, the Gideon campaign has clearly failed to meet that standard.

Sen. Collins has cast more than 7,300 votes during her years in the Senate. I cast over 5,000 votes during my Senate career, and not even my mother agreed with every single one. The proper standard for judging Sen. Collins or any elected official is not whether you agree with each one of their votes; rather, it is whether you respect the process they used to make those choices. Did they weigh all the facts? Were they open to all arguments on all sides of the issue? Did they use their independent judgment rather than simply following party dogma?

By that standard, Sen. Collins deserves our full respect. She is thoughtful and studies each issue with care. On occasion, her votes have been frustrating to her fellow Republicans, and on other occasions her supporters among Democrats and independents have also felt frustrated by some of her votes. That is an inevitable outcome when a senator exercises their independent judgment rather than trying to bend to what is popular or fashionable.

Sen. Collins was just named as the nation’s most bipartisan senator for the seventh consecutive year, a fact that in Maine is a badge of honor. Her bipartisan approach also reflects the proud tradition of other Maine leaders whose votes have been guided by respect for logic and for the Constitution – leaders like Margaret Chase Smith, Ed Muskie, George Mitchell, Olympia Snowe and Angus King.

These are very challenging times for Maine and our country, and it is crucially important that we have our most seasoned and trustworthy leaders working for us. That’s why I am supporting Joe Biden and Susan Collins. They will help restore honesty and honor to our political system. And for Maine, Sen. Collins’ influential voice and senior leadership role are simply too valuable and too important to lose.


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