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Rosemary Collins, singer and choir director, dies at 51

This obituary is part of a series on people who died in the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about the others here.

Rosemary Collins’ classical vocal training came through clearly when she sang tunes. But she was just as comfortable with Meat Loaf, the numbers of “Les Misérables” and “all those great ’80s power ballads,” said her husband, Stan Collins.

Ms. Collins loved to bring together different genres in her programs at the church where she was the music director and in schools in Florida where she taught music. “She had a very eclectic style,” said Collins. “But she knew how to throw. She might even yodel.

Ms Collins died on December 22 at a hospital in Clearwater, Florida, near her home in Palm Harbor. She was 51 years old. The cause was complications from the coronavirus; she died just days after experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, her husband said.

Rosemary Caldwell was born on April 9, 1969 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Her mother, Sidney (Lindsey) Caldwell, was a math teacher and her father, Richard Caldwell was an environmental scientist. She graduated from Countryside High School in 1986, and received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance in 1991 from the University of Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg and a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond two years over late.

She met Mr. Collins in their college jazz choir and they were married in 1993.

Ms. Collins has taught music for nearly two decades in Pinellas County schools, most recently as director of choral activities at Clearwater High School. “This job meant everything to her,” said Collins. “She had such a passion for children and public education.”

She was also the Director of Music at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater. Reverend Andrew Walton, the pastor, said Ms Collins raised the bar on all things music during her two years, incorporating popular tunes into the choral program and bringing in guest musicians.

“Her line between profane and sacred was rather hazy, which matches mine,” he said, recalling that he had been led to drag the Beatles into his sermons thanks to her.

Her role has also placed Ms. Collins at the social center of the church. “I would venture to say that there are currently 100 people talking about their best friend Rosemary,” he said a few days after her death.

Besides Mr. Collins, Mrs. Collins is survived by her mother; two daughters, Lindsey, 21, and Griffin, 18; her sister, Ann Caldwell Adair and her brother, Richard Allen Caldwell. Her children are both active in music; Lindsey Collins is a vocal specialist at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

“She looks like her mother when she sings,” Mr. Collins said. “It keeps her with me.

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With a rock-solid victory, Susan Collins is ready to negotiate

“My victory shows that a moderate can prevail in this highly polarized environment,” Ms. Collins said. “My victory in Maine shows that you can be an independent voice and take a few breaths, do what you think is right, and the voters, at least in some states, will reward you.”

Ms Collins said she was willing to work with former political enemies to achieve legislative achievements. But after surviving a brutal campaign in which Democrats saved her, Ms Collins has reason to hold a grudge. She pointed out that Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and Leader of the Minority, presented “a challenge” given “the millions of dollars in patently bogus advertising he has launched against me.”

While the precise balance of power in the Senate will remain unknown until two second-round races in Georgia are decided in early January, Republicans are favored to win both seats, likely leaving Mr Biden as the first Democratic president since. Grover Cleveland in 1885 to take office. without Democrats in control of both houses of Congress. A fraction of Republican support – likely that of Ms Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, due for re-election in 2022 – will be needed to advance her legislative and political ambitions.

“It puts her in a very strong position to get things done in the Senate,” said Steve Abbott, her campaign manager and longtime advisor. He described “a particular self-confidence that comes” from “going beyond the odds,” a confidence that he added “strengthens her to the core, to do what she thinks is right.”

In a signal of where power might rest in the 117th Congress, Mr. Biden has yet to speak to Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. But he insisted on calling Ms Collins before his own victory was cemented. (Mr. Biden officially endorsed Ms. Gideon during the campaign, but did not show up in person with her.)

“I know we technically come from different political backgrounds, but they’re not that different,” Mr Biden said in a 2017 video filmed in honor of Ms Collins receiving an award from the Irish Heritage Center. “We quickly became good friends, and I look forward to your continuing to lead the United States Senate, Susan.

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Democrats have done everything against Susan Collins. Rural Maine winced.

In a state moving away from Mr Trump, Ms Collins seemed like an easy choice and donors poured money into the state. For weeks leading up to the election, polls showed Ms Collins was fighting for her survival, spent two to one by her rival. But on November 3, she won by eight points, largely thanks to a surge of support in small towns.

In Rumford, who toppled the Republican in 2016, voters thought the reasons were clear: The Gideon campaign, they said, was too focused on national politics. It was too negative, they complained. And it cost too much money, too much out-of-state money.

“It was like being a local in Woodstock in 1969,” said Dan Shea, professor of government at Colby College. “At first it was exciting and fun, but at the end it was muddy and dirty. I guess the yields declined in September. “

Targeted ad spending, of course, works in some cases. Arizona’s Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly was backed by $ 38.7 million in donations in the last three months of the race and defeated Martha McSally, the Republican incumbent, in a traditionally conservative state.

But Maine offers an example of how a nationalized and generous effort can backfire. Maine’s media market is tiny, and the cost of advertising is so low that campaigns have struggled to spend the money they had.

As a result, viewers were inundated with commercials starting in the spring, accusing Ms Collins of selling to special interests or ceding to Mr Trump. And these expenses – perceived to come from out of state – were not suitable for many Mainers.

“If you put $ 100 million here, you are trying to buy the election,” said David Libby, 65, a coppersmith from Rumford.

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Video: Collins wins Maine Senate race as Gideon concedes

new video loaded: Collins wins Maine Senate race as Gideon concedes

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Collins wins Maine Senate race as Gideon concedes

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins has claimed a fifth term after her Democratic challenger, Sara Gideon, conceded.

“I am the first person since Maine directly elected its senators to win a fifth term. [cheering] So to the people of Maine, thank you. Thank you. I will serve you with all my heart. I will work hard for you every day. And together, we will come together to work on the issues and challenges facing our state and our country. I am very honored to have this responsibility. Many thanks to the people of Maine. Thank you. ”“ We brought people together and came up with a set of ideas and a vision to move this state and its people forward. Mainers rallied to our campaign in a way I have never seen before. even though we have not been successful, I believe the Mainers across this state are ready to continue working together to make a difference. Earlier I spoke with Senator Collins. congratulated her on winning this election. And I told her that I will always be available to help the people of Maine. I am proud of the campaign that we have waged. And whatever the result, we have together built a movement that will help us move forward for years to come.

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Collins wins in Maine, denying Democrats crucial Senate takeover

BANGOR, me. – Senator Susan Collins, Republican from Maine, claimed victory on Wednesday in her bid for a fifth term, fending off an avalanche of Democratic money and liberal anger in the toughest race of her career to defeat Sara Gideon, a Democrat, and strengthen the party’s grip on the Senate.

Her triumph, reported by The Associated Press, preserved Ms Collins’ status as New England’s only Republican in Congress. She became the first female senator in state history to be directly chosen by voters for a fifth term in the upper house, dashing Democratic hopes for a crucial recovery as their ambitions for a takeover of the Senate were hanging on by a thread.

Ms Collins, 67, who had lagged in most public polls this year, weathered the liberal tide in part by focusing her campaign on local issues and distancing herself from Mr Trump, refusing even to say whether she would vote for him.

Striving to preserve an image she has carefully cultivated as an independent-minded moderate, she reminded voters of her accomplishments for the state and underlined her likely rise to the head of the powerful Credit Committee, which allocates federal spending, if the Republicans retain a majority, as well as his personal connections in the state.

“I think this is an affirmation of the work I do in Washington to fight hard every day, to fight every day for the people of Maine,” Ms Collins said to a small crowd of masked supporters clapping in. Parking at the Hilton Garden Inn, shortly after Ms. Gideon called her to concede the race. “I will serve you with all my heart, I will work hard for you every day, and together we will come together to work on the issues and challenges facing our state and our country.”

National Democrats, furious after Ms Collins became a key vote in favor of Mr Trump’s tax plan and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court in 2018, had chosen Ms Collins as a priority target on their way to recover the majority in the Senate. As a result, the race had become the most expensive in Maine history, with national donors flooding the state with tens of millions of dollars and a wave of negative publicity.

Ms Gideon, the president of Maine’s House, had sought to frame the campaign as a referendum on Republicans, portraying Ms Collins as out of touch with the state and in tune with Mr Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the leader of the majority. She capitalized on the growing polarization of the state in the Trump era, as Democrats and independent voters grew increasingly frustrated with Ms Collins’ model of expressing distress at the President’s language and actions. , only to side with his party on crucial issues.

But Ms Gideon ultimately failed, failing to stop Ms Collins from reaching the 50% threshold required for outright victory in the state’s choice voting system. Republicans had feared the system would hurt her chances, potentially consolidating liberal opposition to her given the presence in the race of a progressive, Lisa Savage, who openly encouraged her supporters to list Ms Gideon as second choice. .

“The Mainers rallied to our campaign in a way I have never seen before, and while we were unsuccessful, I think the Mainers across this state are ready to keep working. together to make a difference, ”Ms. Gideon said. in a gloomy concession speech. “Whatever the outcome, we’ve built a movement together that will help us move forward for years to come.”

The pandemic offered Ms Collins the opportunity to counter the narrative by highlighting her work with Democrats, as she defended what would become a popular federal loan program to stabilize thousands of small businesses across the country in law stimulus of $ 2.2 trillion enacted in the spring. . The creation of the Paycheck Protection Program, along with a series of steps to revise and rebuild it, also provided Ms Collins in stark contrast to Ms Gideon, who adjourned the Legislature of the ‘State in March and failed to garner bipartisan support to meet there.

In the days leading up to Tuesday’s election, Ms Collins crisscrossed the state in her campaign bus, visiting small businesses that survived the pandemic by taking advantage of the loan program and towns in Maine that benefited from her work in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“I’m taking the same approach I’ve always taken,” Collins told reporters Wednesday. Earlier today, West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III called her, she said, seeking to meet in the coming days to resolve the lingering deadlock over another relief program against coronaviruses.

Ms Collins, whose vote for Judge Kavanaugh prompted critics to raise nearly $ 4 million for her eventual opponent, further polished her credentials as a moderate willing to break with her party when Senate Republicans walked away. are rushed to fill the vacant Supreme Court post left in September by death. Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ms Collins became one of only two senators from her party to oppose moving forward to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett ahead of the election, and the only one to vote “no.” She stressed her objections after her fellow Republicans blocked Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice to succeed Judge Antonin Scalia after his death in 2016, as they insisted that such seat should not be filled in an election year.

With Republicans otherwise almost united to move forward, they did not need her vote anyway, and unusual circumstances allowed Ms Collins, who supports the right to abortion, to avoid the whether to confirm a candidate who personally opposed abortion.

Democrats scoffed at the vote, arguing it had no impact on the process and used the vote to try to increase Ms Gideon’s chances in the final days of the campaign.

But in the end, on a soundtrack to “Still the One” from Orleans and “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John screaming in the snowy hotel parking lot, Ms. Collins won.

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Maine voting system threatens Collins in closing days of tight Senate race

CUMBERLAND, Maine – Sara Gideon, her voice hoarse on a cold Friday night, stood in the center of a fairground scene like the headline of a rally behind the wheel, making a closing speech to a choir of horns from car and headlights appreciating a Democrat-dominated government that would act aggressively to tackle climate change, economic and racial inequalities and runaway health care costs.

A day earlier, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, had crossed the state in her signature campaign bus with a very different message, highlighting the billions of dollars she had directed to Maine businesses during the pandemic and her life of connections made across state, barely mentioning President Trump or his party leaders as she played her mark of moderate pragmatist.

The appearances reflected the contrast between the two women leading the most expensive Senate race in Maine history. That has hardly changed since Ms Gideon entered the fray more than 16 months ago, hoping to capitalize on Liberal anger against Mr Trump and outrage over Ms Collins’ vote for confirm Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to deny the Republican senator a fifth term.

But thanks to a presidential impeachment trial, a deadly pandemic, and yet another historically partisan Supreme Court confirmation battle, neither candidate has been able to maintain a consistent advantage in the race. Instead, due to a relatively new voting system in Maine, the outcome of the contest – and potentially the balance of power in the Senate – may not revert to who voters in Maine nominate first, but to who they appoint second.

Tuesday’s contest will likely be the first time Maine has counted second choices in a Senate race using a ranked choice voting system that has been in place since 2018. It allows voters to list a second candidate and counts those preferences as votes if no one reaches 50% when the first choice votes are tallied. The system could prove particularly dangerous for Ms Collins – who, like Ms Gideon, has consistently fallen below 50% in public polls in recent months – because Lisa Savage, a progressive who presents herself as independent in the race , urged her supporters to list Ms. Gideon second.

“It’s obviously a very close race, but I feel the momentum is breaking me,” Ms. Collins said Thursday, after munching on an ice cream cone as she completed a series of rainy business tours. local in two counties. “My goal is to get 50% on election day, and ranked choice voting wouldn’t come into play. So that’s what I’m hoping for.

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But there is little evidence Ms Collins has been able to take the lead in recent weeks. Even after she became the only Republican to break with her party and Mr. Trump last week to vote against Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, citing the proximity of the election, voters appeared unmoved. In statewide interviews, his supporters and opponents both felt it was a necessary political move to woo moderate voters, with Democrats noting that it did nothing to affect the result.

“It’s hard to ruin your party, and I give it credit for it,” said Lara Rosen, 39, who was packed in her car with a cup of haddock chowder and her 5-year-old son Isaac Rosen. -Murray. to support Mrs. Gideon. “It’s not enough. It’s not the only thing I care about.

Maine first rolled out its statewide ranked choice voting system two years ago, allowing voters to rank their preferences instead of choosing a single candidate. If the election ends without any candidate reaching at least 50%, the one with the fewest votes is eliminated and these ballots are redistributed to the remaining candidates according to the voters’ second choice. The elimination process continues until a candidate has passed the threshold of majority.

The system, which is also used in Australia, Ireland and in the race for the best Oscar picture, proved to be prominent in Maine’s second congressional district in 2018. After garnering more votes as a second or third choice, Jared Golden, a Democrat, Unelected Representative Bruce Poliquin, a Republican who had been the first choice of more voters. (Independent Senator Angus King who is Caucasian with Democrats easily crossed the bar with over 54% of the vote that year.)

“It’s not as simple as you might think – there is no clear political flow from candidates from small parties to candidates from the majority,” said Daniel M. Shea, professor of government at Colby College. and senior researcher on college polls. of the Senate race. In the college’s final poll, which called the race a “statistical overheating,” a brash businessman Max Linn won 1.7% of the vote while Ms Savage, a teacher linked to the Maine Green Independent Party, got 4.7%, behind Ms Gideon at 46.6% and Ms Collins at 43.4%. The poll had a 3.3% margin of error.

Mr Linn, an often belligerent presence in the debate who cut off surgical masks in the middle of an exchange to illustrate opposition to a mask warrant, said in an interview that he is not working to influence his supporters who ranked second on their ballot. But Ms Savage, who supports several progressive causes like Medicare for all and a Green New Deal, has built her campaign in part around explaining choice voting – and urging her supporters to “vote blue # 2” and direct their secondary votes to Mrs. Gideon.

“Our platform and our issues are what most young voters resonate with, but they say, ‘I don’t believe in electoral politics; I don’t think it changes anything; I’m not very inclined to vote, ”Ms. Savage said on Saturday. She was sitting at a table at the Portland Farmers’ Market that offered condoms branded “Medicare for all”, rainbow “Lisa for Maine” pins and several explanations of the voting system. “So now our pitch to them is, ‘But we have a choice vote. It amplifies the power of your vote, ”she said.

Ms Savage stressed that she was not seeking to undermine Ms Gideon in her attempt to overthrow Ms Collins, but rather to help attract otherwise reluctant, young and rookie voters who were bewildered by the bitter and suspicious campaign that Ms Gideon did was not liberal enough. Many experts say Ms Savage’s supporters could tip the scales and give Ms Gideon a victory.

“We want to send a signal to Democrats that we are part of the ‘Susan Collins’ retirement team with them,” Ms. Savage said. Her campaign, she added, approached Ms Gideon’s team with suggesting that women campaign for the other second, but have not received a response. (During an appearance at Bates College on Friday, Ms Gideon told reporters she would encourage her constituents to consider ranking Ms Savage second.)

But in search of a clear path to victory, Ms Collins and Ms Gideon plunged into a wave of last-minute campaigns, distributing bumps and platitudes in a bid to galvanize their supporters and persuade the remaining undecided voters. of State. The Colby College poll found that 3.6% of the 879 probable voters polled had not made a decision.

“There are a lot of people who have made up their minds, some of whom may have made up their minds 10 months ago, and some of whom have been to this place in the past two months,” Ms. Gideon said during a stopover at a logging site in Oxford County, as machines felled trees behind her. “I think there are people who still don’t know what to do. They think about the balance between the presidential election and the Senate, and they have a hard time figuring out exactly who is going to do what or who did what.

During a four-day tour of the state, Ms. Gideon frequently summoned the specter of Mr. Trump and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader, to present the race in national terms and to argue that it was vital for Democrats to control the White House and Congress set the agenda in Washington.

For her part, Ms Collins spent the final days of the campaign highlighting the financial support she had given to small businesses across the state by championing the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular federal lending program which her campaign said channeled more than $ 2.3 billion to nearly 30,000. companies.

Ultimately, his final presentation for a fifth term depends on voters who still appreciate the power of a Maine vote in first place on the powerful Appropriations Committee, which allocates federal spending; the few remaining split-ticket voters in the state like Bill Green, a retired reporter and longtime Maine TV member.

Mr Green, a registered Democrat who voted for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential candidate, endorsed Ms Collins in a series of campaign announcements.

“She went to work every day, and whoever elected president, Susan Collins worked with him,” he said. “It’s her job to go out there and do the best job she can for Maine, to hold his nose and work with the guy.”

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Woman who sent threat to Susan Collins sentenced to 30 months in prison

A woman who prosecutors said sent a threatening letter to Senator Susan Collins’ home in Maine in October 2018 because she was upset with her vote to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice was sentenced Thursday to two and a half years in prison. jail.

The woman, Suzanne Muscara, 38, of Burlington, Maine, who was convicted in a one-day trial in November of sending a threatening communication, will also have to complete three years of supervised release after being released. completed his prison term, Judge Lance E. Walker of The Maine US District Court ruled.

The letter to Ms Collins, a Republican, was intercepted at the US Postal Service’s mail sorting center in Hampden, Maine on October 17, 2018, less than two weeks after Mr Kavanaugh was confirmed as a judge, according to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint against Ms. Muscara.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maine, Ms. Muscara was arrested in April 2019 after her fingerprint was identified on an envelope containing a white powder that was later determined to be starch.

The envelope also contained a letter which contained a cartoon of Ms Collins depicting her as a stick with X’s for her eyes. The word “AnthRAX !!!” and “HA HA HA !!!” were also written on the letter. (The Postal Service was monitoring mail addressed to the Senator because of a threatening letter that was received at his home on October 15.)

Ms Muscara told FBI agents that she didn’t think her letter would be taken seriously, according to the affidavit.

“US policy is founded on free speech and vigorous debate,” said Halsey Frank, the US attorney for Maine, in a statement after the conviction. “The real threats are not protected speeches. It’s a crime. Anthrax is a deadly substance that has been used to kill and terrorize. There is nothing funny about it, and the jury in this case rejected the defendant’s claim that her letter was intended as a joke.

James S. Nixon, the public defender who represented Ms Muscara, did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Friday evening.

Ms. Muscara was sentenced to a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of $ 250,000. She has been incarcerated since her arrest and will receive credit for the 18 months of her incarceration, Andrew McCormack, a deputy U.S. attorney for the District of Maine, said in an interview Friday.

In a statement, Christopher Knight, a spokesperson for Ms Collins, said: “Senator Collins and her husband, Tom Daffron, are grateful for the vigilance of the postal inspectors and employees of the Hampden processing center and office. Bangor Post Office who quickly intercepted the letter and the extraordinary professionalism and effective investigative work of local, state and federal law enforcement officers.

The conviction came amid a series of threats against elected officials and candidates across the country during this electoral cycle.

In March, a Connecticut man was arrested for threatening California Representative Adam Schiff through his congressional website. That same month, a Texas man was accused of making death threats against President Nancy Pelosi on his Facebook page.

In June, a Mississippi man was accused of threatening Rep. Bennie Thompson and his staff. And this month, the FBI arrested more than a dozen right-wing extremists they accused of plotting to kidnap and assassinate Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.