Indian-American gets fighting chance to win U.S. Senate seat from Maine

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Maine State Rep. Sara Gideon running for the U.S. Senate. (Facebook profile photo June 24, 2019)

There is an outside chance that a second Indian-American may make it to the U.S. Senate come Nov. 3, after Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California.

A recent poll in Maine shows an Indian-American has moved a step closer to potentially overturning a incumbent for the U.S. Senate race. The Democratic Party has targeted Collins’ seat seeing the potential to turn a red seat blue in the upper house, and significant amounts of money have poured into the race from both sides of the aisle.

Maine State House Speaker Sara Gideon, 49, whose father is an Indian-American and mother an Armenian-American, is running against four-term incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins. According to Bangordailynews.com, more than $10 million has been spent on this race, higher than any other Senate race in the country.

A recent poll, out March 5, 2020, showed the race between the two candidates was getting tighter, and that Gideon actually had a slight edge over Collins, the survey results available online showed.

To keep that edge in perspective, Public Policy Polling, which conducted the survey, usually conducts polls mainly for Democrats. However, an earlier poll in mid-February by Colby College showed the two women neck-and neck, the Bangordailynews.com reported.

The Public Policy Polling results were reached after interviews with 872 registered voters. It sowed Gideon had a favorability rating of 47 percent to Collins’ 43 percent, though 10 percent were undecided. They answered the question “If the candidates for U.S. Senate this fall were Democrat Sara Gideon and Republican Sue Collins, who would you vote for.”

Also, the same survey showed only 33 percent of respondents approved of Collins’ job performance and 57 percent disapproved.

All this gives hope to Gideon supporters that the Indian-American stands a chance to turn long-time red seat to blue, something Democrats are counting on to gain the equality or thin majority in the Upper House.

Gideon appears to have pulled ahead of the other four Democrats vying in the June 9, 2020, Democratic primaries. The other Democrats seeking to unseat Collins include Michael Bunker, Bre Kidman, Ross LaJeunesse, and Betsy Sweet.

Gideon is not new to politics and began her legislative career in the Maine State House in 2013, winning her race from State House District 48. During that term she served in the Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. She was Assistant Majority Leader in the 2015 legislative session, according to Ballotpedia. In 2017, she serves on the Rules and Business of the House Committee. Since 2019, Gideon has served as chair of the Rules and Business of the House Committee, and the Legislative Council Committee. She is also a member of the Personnel Committee.

This is her second term as Speaker of the House, and according to the website of the Speaker, Gideon’s “one priority is building an economy that works for everyone.”

Gideon’s campaign website touts her years in public office from being a member of the town council, then State Representative and now Speaker, as being in service of Mainers. “Sara has prioritized listening to Mainers and then working with others to get things done. And under Governors of both parties, Sara has shown an ability to deliver results while standing up for Democratic values,” it says.

She is credited with working to keep pre-existing conditions in healthcare insurance; helped keep drug prices from increasing; championed job training legislation to address Maine’s workforce shortage and increase economic opportunity across the state, the profile says.

“I’m running for Senate because Mainers deserve a senator who will always put our state first,” Gideon said on Facebook when she began her race last June. “At one point maybe Susan Collins was different from other folks in Washington, but she doesn’t seem that way anymore,” she added, blaming the incumbent Senator for voting the controversial candidate Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

Gideon is also credited with a landmark bill passed to provide property tax refunds to Maine homeowners, and push through bipartisan legislation focused on expanding educational opportunities, her website says.  She is for a woman’s right to choose; and has drawn attention to the opioid epidemic. She succeeded in marshalling bipartisan support to override a gubernatorial veto on opioid legislation.

She is married to Benjamin Gideon and the couple and their three children live in Freeport, Maine.

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