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Words of gratitude from Maine

Strong winds along the coast in the morning, gusting up to 60 miles per hour. A Norway maple falls in our garden, falls on the two cars, dismantles the power line and tears the cable and the electric meter right next to the house. We call the power company. There are power outages throughout Maine and crews have to wait for the wind to calm down. At around 9 p.m., we hear the bucket truck stop. Two men, one a beginner, the other a veteran, come out, turn on their headlights and work in the dark, lifting the rope and reattaching it. We thank them, these men are doing their job. Line by line, through the woods, on miles of two-lane roads, electricity is restored. “You are our last stop of the night,” said one of them. “We are coming home for supper after that.

– Stuart Kestenbaum, Poet Laureate from Maine

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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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Video: Democratic Challenger Sara Gideon concedes Maine Senate race

new video loaded: Democratic challenger Sara Gideon concedes Maine Senate race

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Democratic challenger Sara Gideon concedes Maine Senate race

Sara Gideon, Maine’s Democratic Senate candidate, conceded the race to incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins on Wednesday.

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 around our campaign in a way I had never seen before. And while we haven’t 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. I congratulated her on winning this election. And I told him that I will always be available to help the people of Maine. The challenges we face as a state and as a country are some of the greatest we have seen in our lifetime. While this election is over, we must work together to build a better future, a future where everyone has access to the health care they can afford, where we face our climate crisis head-on, and where we restore our economy by giving. prioritizing hardworking people and their families. I am proud of the campaign we waged and whatever the outcome, together we have 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.”