Indian-American in Maine wins Democratic primary to face-off against U.S. Senate Republican

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Indian-American candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maine Sara Gideon, won the Democratic primary July 14, 2020. Photo: Twitter @SaraGideon

Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Sara Gideon, whose father is Indian, soundly defeated her fellow Democrats Elizabeth Sweet and Bre Kidman July 14, 2020, to win the party nomination in the race for the U.S. Senate.

She will be facing off against long time incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

Toppling Collins in November could lead to the GOP losing its majority in that body.

“We did it! Thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign to elect a senator who will fight for Mainers—not special interests. Onward to November! #mepolitics,” Gideon Tweeted, adding, “The general election starts right now. We have 111 days to defeat Susan Collins, and we have to make every moment count.”

Just days before the Maine Democratic primary July 14, 2020, analysts and polls already showed the rising popularity of the Indian-American candidate for the U.S. Senate against long time incumbent Sen. Collins.

Gideon sailed through the July 14 primary with more than 70 percent of the vote. Sweet received 22.9, and Kidman 6.7, with a majority of precincts reporting, the New York Times and other news outlets reported..

When the influential organization Emily’s List which endorses women leaders for political office, came behind Gideon, it described her as “A proven leader and dedicated public servant.”

Gideon , the daughter of an Indian-American father and Armenian mother, had the support of Democratic Party Campaign Committee, and had built a formidable support base among unions and other political groups, all the while raising millions of dollars.

First elected in 2012, to the Maine House of Representatives, in every re-election Gideon garnered more than 65 percent of the popular vote.

Sara Gideon, Indian-American candidate for the U.S. Senate seat from Maine, poses for photo at a polling site. She won the July 14, 2020 Democratic primary. Photo: Twitter @SaraGideon

Gideon has pulled ahead of Collins lately in some polls. Most analysts including the Cook Political Report, have called the race a “toss up” come November. An early July poll by RealCearPolitics showed Gideon 2.5 points ahead of Collins. A report in Forbes lists Collins among the “most vulnerable” Senators.

Just a few days ago, July 7, 2020, the New York Times ran a telling headline about this heated race – “Hemmed In by the Pandemic, Collins Battles for Survival in Maine.” The Times also called it “the toughest re-election race of her (Collins’) career.” Made even more so because the Republican Party’s control of the Senate rests on her shoulders.

Currently speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, Gideon, 48, has garnered endorsements from influential apart from Emily’s List. Most recently, the Maine AFL-CIO which represents some 160 plus unions across Maine endorsed her, one of its affiliates tweeting, “We are proud to endorse Sara Gideon for US Senate because we’ve worked together to raise wages on construction jobs, promote worker training and apprenticeship, and build an economy that works for all us, not just the wealthy few.”

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency carried a report July 9, 2020, with the headline, “Sara Gideon could flip Susan Collins’ Senate seat blue. She’s building a wide base of Jewish support to do so.”

Collins, a four-term incumbent, has long been seen as a moderate Republican, but some of her votes over the last year, including the support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and for President Trump during the impeachment trial have put her in the crosshairs of many moderates in Maine.

Maine Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Marra issued a statement after Gideon’s primary win was confirmed.

“Speaker Gideon’s record of public service is clear: she knows how to fight for what matters most to Maine people. As Speaker of the Maine House she has championed efforts to expand access to affordable health care, direct resources to combat the opioid epidemic in Maine, and protect our environment,” Marra said.

“She’s also proven that she can deliver real results for Maine people by passing laws to help control the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs, provide property tax refunds to working families, and prevent insurance companies from discriminating against Mainers with pre existing conditions. We are thrilled that Maine Democratic voters have selected Sara Gideon as our nominee and we look forward to working together in the months ahead,” Marra added, contending that Sen. Collins was “more unpopular with Maine voters than she’s ever been before and Speaker Gideon has what it takes to win in November.”

Federal Election Commission filings show that as of June 24, 2020, Gideon had total contributions of $22,158,035, of which an overwhelming majority, $21,813,547 was in individual contributions, records showed July 15, 2020. Her cash on hand by end of June was $5,494,743.  She has pledged not to accept money from corporate Political Action Committees (PACs).

Sen. Collins was a few million short of her rival with total contributions by the same date at $15,169,062, and individual contributions at $12,266, 69. However, her cash on hand was neck-and-neck at $5,006,945.

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