There is no doubt that the 2020 Maine Senate race set a record in terms of the money spent and the negative tone. We should all be committed to ensuring this record remains unbroken.

Avoiding a repeat of history, however, requires an honest assessment of the past. A recent column, “Public’s bleak view of Congress inevitable result of negative campaigning” painted a distorted picture of the bitter contest by assigning blame equally to both candidates.

In the face of intense nationalized opposition, Susan Collins ran an admirable, fact-based campaign that was focused on local Maine issues. By contrast, Sara Gideon’s ads were deemed false by independent fact checkers an astounding 18 times.

Two false equivalencies underpin the column. First, the authors are critical of the vast sums of money raised by the candidates, but they omit a salient fact: Gideon raised 70 percent of that total.

Second, the authors inaccurately imply that Sen. Collins aired more negative ads through an analysis of the 1,736 ads that were created – yet between Oct. 12 and 25 alone, 16,550 ads were aired on Maine TV. Gideon used her immense war chest to bombard the airwaves with negative ads.

Mainers who lived through the two-year onslaught of negative campaigning know who bears responsibility for the nasty tone of the race. That became clear on Election Day, when Mainers rightly rejected Gideon’s high-dollar smear campaign by showing her the door and decisively re-electing Susan Collins, a senator they know and trust, to an historic fifth term.

Jim Cyr

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