An unusual fundraising technique tying the release of campaign funds to how Maine Sen. Susan Collins votes on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh reached a milestone on Tuesday, going over $1 million.
The “Be A Hero” campaign – coordinated by national health activist Ady Barkan, and liberal groups Mainers for Accountable Leadership and the Maine People’s Alliance – asks people to donate at least $20.20 to a future Collins opponent if she votes “yes” on Kavanaugh. If she votes “no” the money would be refunded to donors.
Collins has said she remains undecided. The moderate Republican, 65, would be up for re-election in 2020, although she hasn’t announced yet whether she would seek another term.
In a statement to Newsmax, a conservative news outlet, on Monday, Collins likened the fundraising effort to bribery.
“I consider this quid pro quo fundraising to be the equivalent of an attempt to bribe me to vote against Judge Kavanaugh,” Collins said to Newsmax. “This effort will not influence my vote at all. I think it demonstrates the new lows to which the judge’s opponents have stooped.”
Marie Follayttar Smith, of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, said the organizers are not aware of any other fundraising campaigns that used similar tactics, but the groups wanted to try something different and thought of the idea during brainstorming sessions.
The $1 million, in a small, rural state like Maine, is significant funding for a Senate campaign. During the 2014 campaign, where Collins bested her Democratic opponent, Shenna Bellows, by a 68 to 32 percent margin, Collins spent $5.5 million and Bellows spent $2.3 million.
Most of the pledges in the “Be A Hero” campaign are small donations. About 26,000 of the 36,000 donations as of Tuesday afternoon were $20.20, according to the website.
Kavanaugh is a controversial nominee, and progressive groups argue he is likely to overturn the 1973 landmark abortion rights case, Roe v. Wade, or rule on cases that would substantially limit women’s right to choose.
Collins and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are being targeted as possible “no” votes because they are both pro-choice Republicans in a Senate that has a slim 51-49 Republican majority. If all Democrats and left-leaning independents vote “no,” it would take two Republicans voting against Kavanaugh to sink the nomination.
Collins has said she was encouraged by Kavanaugh’s statements that he considers Roe v. Wade to be “settled law” and “precedent upon precedent.”
The Supreme Court is currently split 4-4 between conservative and liberal justices. Kavanaugh would replace Anthony Kennedy, a centrist.
Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and other senators make their way through a busy corridor at the Capitol as they head to a procedural vote on an appropriations measure, in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)