Whoever runs against Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) in 2020 will start off their campaign with nearly $3 million, thanks to a crowdfunding campaign opposing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Already, two politicians have expressed interest in running: U.S. National Security Advisor for the Obama administration Susan Rice and Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives Sara Gideon. On Twitter, both hinted they’d be interested in opposing Collins in 2020. Now either one could start with millions in her war chest.
“Senator Collins votes NO on Kavanaugh and you will not be charged, and no money will go to fund her future opponent,” the fundraiser’s website reads. “Senator Collins votes YES on Kavanaugh and your pledge will go to her opponent’s campaign, once that opponent has been identified.”
Local Maine groups and activist Ady Barkan launched the fundraiser on Crowdpac in August and so far have raised $2.9 million. Organizers surpassed their original goal of $2 million after Collins announced on Friday she’d vote to confirm Kavanaugh, saying she didn’t believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was sexually assaulted by him, and that she believes the soon-to-be Supreme Court justice won’t overturn Roe v. Wade.
Crowdpac’s website even crashed during Collins’ 40-minute speech.
“I’m disheartened. And I’m ready to defeat her,” Mainers for Accountable Leadership’s director Marie Follayttar Smith told ThinkProgress after Collins announced she’d stand by President Donald Trump’s nomination.
In addition to organizing this fundraiser, Follayttar Smith and other activists visited Collins’ offices in Washington D.C. and Portland, Maine, urging the senator to oppose Kavanaugh. They delivered over 3,000 letters and risked arrest as they stage sit-ins. They even launched a fundraiser for Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) future opponent; however, it hasn’t performed as well as Collins’.
The president has spread conspiracy theories about these organizers, saying on Twitter that George Soros paid the protesters. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly condemned them, calling them the “mob.” But these activists aren’t caricatures; in fact, many are sexual assault survivors, including Follayttar Smith.
They’ve shared their stories with senators — many for the first time — because they don’t believe a man who may have sexually assaulted three women should be confirmed to the country’s highest court.
It’s all but certain that Kavanaugh will be the next Supreme Court justice now that Collins and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) have said they will vote to confirm him on Saturday.
But Collins should expect some political fallout for her vote, various Portland residents told ThinkProgress when this reporter visited — including Sarah Skillin Woodard of Emerge Maine, a training program for Democratic women candidates statewide.
Skillin Woodard worked on the Shenna Bellows campaign in 2014; the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maine lost then but Collins’ vote for Kavanaugh and the state’s new ranked choice voting system could result in an incumbent upset.
“I think for the first time in many, many years, she is going to be vulnerable,” she told ThinkProgress earlier this week.