Third time’s a charm, but apparently not the fourth as U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) found out that the Human Rights Campaign chose to endorse her democratic opponent Sara Gideon over her.
HRC endorsed Collins in her last three campaigns, oftentimes angering LGBT activists when doing so.
According to the Washington Blade, Collins built a record during her years in the Senate as a supporter of LGBT rights. During the George W. Bush administration, she bucked her party in opposition to amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, became the a leading voice in the party to the repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and became the only Republican co-sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate.
This time around though her prior support of LGBT issues weren’t enough to persuade HRC to endorse her for a fourth time.
Alphonso David, president of HRC, explained in a statement to the Blade.
“We are fighting for our lives and the only way to advance LGBTQ equality through the United States Senate is to install a new pro-equality majority leader and replace Mitch McConnell. Despite Susan Collins’ record of support on certain key LGBTQ issues, her support of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump’s agenda, endorsement of Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court and failure to hold Donald Trump accountable, is simply untenable.”
The Blade also reported that Collins had some less high-profile votes that have angered LGBT groups, such as her vote to confirm to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Kyle Duncan, an attorney whose career highlights have included legal briefs opposing same-sex marriage and seeking to bar transgender student Gavin Grimm from the restroom consistent with his gender identity. (Duncan rebuffed a transgender inmate’s request to be referred to by her personal pronouns after confirmation, according to the Blade.)
The Collins snub marked a tremendous turnaround for the HRC, which had endorsed her three times previously in 2014, 2008 and 2002, according to the Blade.
Charles Moran, managing director for Log Cabin Republicans, criticized HRC for snubbing Collins, saying the LGBT group has revealed its true colors as a Democratic front-group.
“Susan Collins has consistently been and continues to be a steadfast advocate for the LGBTQ community,” Moran said. “HRC’s endorsement of her unknown challenger demonstrates its true allegiance is to the Democratic Party, not the benefit of the LGBTQ community.”
Despite the endorsement decision, HRC continues to claim the mantle as a non-partisan organization. In this election cycle, the organization endorsed Sara Davis, a Republican state representative in Texas, although that is the only Republican endorsement from the LGBT rights group this cycle, according to the Blade.
Gideon, who’s currently Speaker of the House in Maine, said she’d draw on experience enacting LGBT non-discrimination legislation in her state to help usher the Equality Act into law.
“Every Mainer, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves a seat at the table in discussions about our future and I’m honored to have the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign in this race,” Gideon said. “In the State House, we passed landmark legislation banning conversion therapy and strengthening the Maine Human Rights Act to protect LGBTQ Mainers from discrimination based on gender identity. I look forward to bringing the same dedication to full equality to Washington, and will always fight for the right of all Mainers to live without fear of discrimination.”
David in his explanation to the Blade commended Gideon for supporting the Equality Act and capacity to look at LGBT rights through an intersectional view.
“Sara Gideon will support the Equality Act — which will provide comprehensive federal legal protections for LGBTQ people — and support pro-equality leadership in the Senate that will help us move our country forward so that we are all treated equally, so that we can work and live through an intersectional lens, and so that we can live up to the principles of our democracy,” David said.
Gideon has made opposition to Collins a major focus of her campaign, according to MSN.
“At one point maybe she was different than some of the folks in Washington, but she doesn’t seem that way anymore,” Gideon said in a 2019 video announcing she was entering the race.
MSN also reported that Gideon cited a number of votes Collins took in favor of Republicans during the Trump administration, including her critical vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
“Susan Collins’ vote to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court may be paying off for her, but it’s put women’s control over their own health care decisions in extreme jeopardy,” she said in the video on Twitter.
On RealClearPolitics, it shows the poll between Gideon v. Collins, with Gideon winning in the spread several times.