Washington, D.C. — When Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) voted yes to a procedural vote on Friday to advance to a final vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, dozens of protesters in her office watched perplexed. They weren’t clear on what was happening as they gazed at the television set to CNN.
“She voted yes,” one protester said, scrolling through Twitter. There wasn’t much of a reaction from the crowd.
Meanwhile, protesters who traveled from Maine continued to write on their comment cards addressed to Collins. They were writing to urge their senator to vote no on the final vote, which is expected to be on Saturday. They weren’t defeated by her initial vote on Friday.
Mainers and other protesters in @SenatorCollins’ office are still very optimistic she will not vote to confirm Kavanaugh tomorrow. Mainers are still writing comments, demanding she vote no. pic.twitter.com/7VHY0u10J3
— Amanda Michelle Gomez (@amanduhgomez) October 5, 2018
“I guess I can’t help but feel we have to be optimistic otherwise then what are we doing here,” said Cookie Harrist of Denmark, Maine.
“There’s part of me that thinks she will vote yes and that is going to be a huge stain on her reputation especially since she tries to say that she supports women’s issues and here’s an opportunity to do that for real,” she added.
Harrist is a sexual assault survivor, an identity she’s just recently accepted in the midst of this #MeToo moment.
“I traveled really far to be here because I couldn’t just settle with the fact that my senator — who’s a woman — will not take a stand at this moment,” said Harrist. “She could be assisting us in the effort to end rape culture… instead, she is backing down.”
Everyone in the senator’s office didn’t really know what to make of the morning vote or this moment within history in general — but they are mad.
Sexual assault survivors have been leading anti-Kavanaugh protests since Dr. Christine Blasey Ford said she was sexually assaulted by the D.C. Circuit judge in high school. Since Dr. Ford publicly accused him of assaulting her, two other women — Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick — have also accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
There have been protests all over the country over the last two weeks, including Portland, Maine.
Pastor T. Sheriff Dickerson of Oklahoma was among the dozen protesters in Collins’ office on Friday. She is also a survivor, trying to make sense of this moment with her fellow survivors at these demonstrations. Last week she spoke with Anita Hill, who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
“I hope we are making you proud,” she said she told Hill.
When ThinkProgress noted that many of the protesters at Collins’ office were liberal, Harris asked, “Why not consider my voice as valuable?”
Activists are staying at Collins’ office until she speaks at 3 p.m. Friday, where she’s expected to announce her intentions on how she’ll vote during the final confirmation vote.
“In an ideal world, I would hear from her that although she voted yes to move to the confirmation vote — she wanted to move things along — but that ultimately a no vote is the right vote,” said Katie Githens, who’s originally from Deer Isle-Stonington but lives in Philadelphia now. She is visiting Capitol Hill on behalf of her parents who still reside in Maine and who, as she puts it, are frustrated.
Collins is one of a handful of senators who were undecided on Kavanaugh and are closely being watched. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted to advance to a final vote, while Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted no. Flake said he’d vote to confirm Kavanaugh and Murkowski said she wouldn’t.