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Collins challenger Sara Gideon raises $3.5 million in fourth quarter of 2019

Collins challenger Sara Gideon raises $3.5 million in fourth quarter of 2019
© Greg Nash

Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D) on Tuesday announced that she raised $3.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 in her bid to oust Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Overnight Health Care: Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe, effective in FDA analysis | 3-4 million doses coming next week | White House to send out 25 million masks Biden's picks face peril in 50-50 Senate MORE (R-Maine), a sum that puts her among the top Democratic Senate fundraisers. 

The multimillion fundraising haul was powered by nearly 4,200 Maine residents, her campaign said, adding that 95 percent of the individual donations to Gideon’s Senate bid were under $100.

Year-end campaign finance reports for 2019 aren’t due to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) until Jan. 31, so it’s unclear how much of Gideon’s $3.5 million haul came from out-of-state donors, though it’s expected to be a substantial amount. Democrats across the country are eager to unseat Collins, especially after her 2018 vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughLaurence Tribe: Justice Thomas is out of order on 2020 election LIVE COVERAGE: Senate set to consider Garland for AG A powerful tool to take on the Supreme Court — if Democrats use it right MORE, and have poured money into Maine to oppose her.

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Still, Gideon will have to make it through a primary in June. She faces challenges from a handful of Democrats, including Betsy Sweet, who unsuccessfully sought her party’s nomination for governor in 2018.

Gideon has largely emerged as the front-runner in the primary, out-raising her Democratic opponents and picking up several key endorsements, including one from Planned Parenthood.

But Collins is expected to put up a stiff challenge in this year’s general election. The four-term senator has won reelection by ever-increasing margins over the years and is a known political brand in Maine. Polling in the Senate race has been sparse, though surveys suggest a close race. 

An October poll from the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling showed Collins narrowly trailing a generic Democratic candidate by only 3 points.

The Cook Political Report ranks the race as a toss-up.