Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon has officially jumped into the state’s U.S. Senate race, joining two other Democrats in their quest to unseat Republican Susan Collins.
She’d been expected to announce her run after the scheduled June 19 close of Maine’s legislative session, several sources told HuffPost earlier this month.
″Whether its been on the town council, as a state representative or as Maine’s speaker of the House, I’ve learned that if you listen and if you are willing to work with others, it’s still possible to get things done,” Gideon said in a video announcing her campaign on Monday.
Gideon, the daughter of an Indian immigrant father and a second-generation Armenian American mother, has served in the Maine House of Representatives since 2012, representing the towns of Freeport and Pownal.
The 47-year-old mother of three has focused her legislative tenure on boosting the state’s economy, tackling the opioid crisis, investing in sustainable energy and increasing access to universal health care.
In the last few weeks of Maine’s first regular legislative session of 2019, Gideon oversaw the passage of several progressive bills, including automatic voter registration and expanding abortion access for women across the state.
Her anti-poverty legislation to address the state’s “benefits cliff” and provide training for adults to qualify for higher-paying jobs received unanimous support in the state’s House and Senate on Tuesday. The bill is awaiting Democratic Gov. Janet Mills’ signature.
Defeating Collins, the Maine moderate who infuriated liberals with her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, is key to Democratic hopes of winning back control of the Senate in 2020.
“Susan Collins has been in the Senate for 22 years and at one point maybe she was different than some of the other folks in Washington,” Gideon said in her campaign video. “But she doesn’t seem that way anymore.”
Collins’ support for Kavanaugh despite the multiple sexual misconduct allegations raised against him from the 1980s drew outrage from Democrats and abortion rights activists. Gideon hinted at a potential run in October following the vote.
“Maine deserves a champion in the US Senate,” Gideon wrote in a Facebook post at the time. “After November I will be seriously considering how I can elevate the voices of people who deserve and demand to be heard and represented in Washington, DC.”
Two other Democrats have formally announced bids to defeat Collins. Betsy Sweet, who came in third during her run for Maine governor last year, is expected to be Gideon’s most direct competition in the Democratic primary. Bre Kidman, an attorney, is also running.
The Maine primary will be held on June 9, 2020.