Maine House Speaker announces challenge to Collins Senate seat

Sara Gideon, the Democratic Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, announced on Monday that she would seek her party’s nomination to challenge Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsHillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout MORE (R) for her seat.

Gideon is among the highest-profile Democrats to enter the Maine Senate race so far. She was widely expected to announce her campaign after the close of Maine’s first legislative session of 2019, which ended last week.

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“Susan Collins has been in the Senate for 22 years. And at one point maybe she was different than some of the folks in Washington, but she doesn’t seem that way anymore,” Gideon said in a video announcing her Senate bid.

She pointed to Collins’s vote in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the 2017 Republican tax overhaul “where almost all of the benefits went to corporations and the wealthy.”

“And Susan Collins’s vote to put Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughLiberal, conservative Supreme Court justices unite in praising Stevens The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Former Justice John Paul Stevens dies at age 99 MORE on the Supreme Court may be paying off for her, but it’s put women’s control of their own health care decisions in extreme jeopardy,” said Gideon, who has served in the Maine House since 2012.

Collins, who has been in the Senate since 1997, is a prime target for Democrats in 2020. Her vote last year to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as he faced sexual misconduct allegations angered liberals and prompted an intense effort to recruit candidates to challenge the longtime senator.

Gideon’s announcement follows the passage of a flurry of progressive bills in the Maine Legislature, including a measure that allows health care professionals who are not physicians to perform abortions. Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed that bill into law earlier this month.

Gideon isn’t the only Democrat vying to take on Collins next year. Betsy Sweet, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Maine governor in 2018, is also in the Senate race. Saco, Maine, attorney Bre Kidman is also running.