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Democrat Gideon concedes to GOP’s Collins in Maine race

November 4, 2020 GMT
Republican Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Bangor, Maine, after Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Republican Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Bangor, Maine, after Tuesday's election. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Democrat Sara Gideon conceded to Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in a hard-fought U.S. Senate race in Maine, which the Associated Press has not called yet.

“While we came up short, I do believe Mainers in every corner of this state are ready to continue to work together to make a difference,” Gideon said during a concession speech Wednesday.

The Senate race was the most costly in Maine history. More than $120 million was spent by both candidates and outside groups to influence the outcome.

Democrats began targeting the popular Collins after her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and opponents crowdsourced money to unseat her. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee gave an early endorsement to Gideon, who easily won her primary.

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Changing demographics and partisan politics have altered the political landscape.

In the past, Collins easily won reelection with help from independents and even some Democratic voters in a state known for its fierce independence. But Democrats surged past independents in voter registrations this summer, becoming the state’s largest voting bloc.

Republicans cast Gideon as a wealthy liberal and a risky choice. Collins contended Gideon would be a Democratic partisan, not an independent voice.

Collins touted herself as a centrist who’s willing to work with both parties. She also highlighted her ability to get things done, pointing to the Paycheck Protection Program — for which she was lead author — as helping businesses during the pandemic.

Gideon, meanwhile, said Collins’ seniority didn’t seem to give her much standing in her own party caucus. She vowed to press for a Medicare option for health care and environmental improvements while stopping short of the “Medicare For All” and Green New Deal proposals backed by progressives.

Collins is a native of Maine, raised in Caribou, where she picked potatoes as a kid, and touted her familiarity with Maine’s unique issues.

Gideon, originally from Rhode Island, moved to Freeport, Maine, 15 years ago. She has ascended quickly into politics and was elected to the Legislature in 2012 after serving on the Freeport Town Council.