April 20, 2020
Welcome to the sixth edition of Swing Left Maine’s News Digest. Between now and the November election we will periodically offer concise summaries of news stories related to the state of play in Maine electoral politics, with special attention to the race for the United States Senate seat currently held by Senator Susan Collins. This marquee race will have consequences far beyond Maine and is being prioritized by both the Republican and Democratic parties because control of the U.S. Senate could well be decided by Maine voters. We will also be keeping an eye on how the presidential contest is playing out in Maine, and on the two congressional races, especially the competitive second congressional district currently represented by freshman Congressman Jared Golden.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the news, and will likely continue to do so for some time. It will also certainly play a major role in this year’s elections.
In each issue of this News Digest, to be distributed by email, we will digest news stories, mostly from the Maine press but occasionally from the national media, that we think will be of interest to those working to help Maine swing left. Each story summary will include a link to the full story so you can easily read more about those that interest you. (Note that you may need a subscription to view the full article depending on the source.)
If we miss a story (we can’t read everything, after all!) that you think should be shared, please email either Tom Redburn at firstname.lastname@example.org or Peter Zheutlin at email@example.com and let us know. Thanks!
• An analysis by Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com shows that Senator Susan Collins votes with President Trump 67% of the time. While this does position her as one of the more moderate Republican Senators, it still reveals her substantial support for the Trump agenda. (fivethirtyeight.com)
• Majority Forward, a liberal group, is spending six-figures to place television ads urging voters to call Senator Collins’s office to encourage her to support health care workers during the pandemic. The ad cites a recent interview Ms. Collins did saying President Trump did “a lot right in the beginning” to combat coronavirus. Majority Forward is also running ads praising Collins’s likely opponent, Sara Gideon. (Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2020)
• Maine has received zero of the 400 ventilators it requested from the federal stockpile, which is now all but empty. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention initially requested 300 ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile, a federal cache of vital medical equipment held in a series of secret warehouses across the country. (The Portland Press Herald, April 15, 2020)
* In contrast to Senator Collins, Maine Senator Angus King vented his frustrations over the Trump administration’s coronavirus response directly to Vice President Mike Pence during a tense conference call, calling the White House’s failure to rapidly expand testing a “dereliction of duty.” (The Portland Press Herald, April 18, 2020)
• Maine’s largest hunger relief organization is scrambling to keep up with a soaring demand for food. “Our head is just barely above water,” Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank, said. In a typical year, the nonprofit spends about $1.5 million to buy food. In a 10-day period recently, the organization spent $1 million, risking running out of food within a month. (Lewiston Sun-Journal, April 13, 2020)
• Senator Susan Collins has been widely satirized for her attempts to sanitize nearly every mild criticism she levels at President Trump. Susan Collins is “deeply concerned” is one jab making the rounds. In a recent interview all she was able to muster when asked about President Trump’s coronavirus response was that it was “uneven.” (Politico, April 14, 2020)
* Susan Collins may be the most vulnerable Senate Republican but there are several Republicans in other states who face serious challengers. There’s plenty of time for things to change, but at the moment, writes Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, the “smart money would be on Democrats getting at least a 50-50 draw.” In that case, it is even more important for Democrats to win the White House, too, so that Mitch McConnell would no longer be majority leader. (The Washington Post, April 17, 2020)
* Susan Collins repeatedly touts her role in designing the Paycheck Protection Program for small business. But not only is the program already running out of money, it also appears to have several flaws that are limiting its usefulness for the small companies in Maine and elsewhere that most need the support. (The Atlantic, April 16, 2020)