MEMO: Susan Collins is the most vulnerable GOPer in 2020 by a mile

TO:               Interested Parties
FROM:         American Bridge 21st Century
SUBJ:          Susan Collins is the most vulnerable GOPer in 2020 by a mile
DATE:          January 16, 2019


Maine Senator Susan Collins has a steep hill to climb to reelection in 2020. In the past two years, she has undermined her centrist persona and voters in Maine have caught on. If she chooses to run again in 2020, she would enter the contest as the underdog.

American Bridge is ready to capitalize on this opportunity to defeat the Senate’s most vulnerable Republican with a two tier attack that will underscore how 20 years in Washington have changed Susan Collins.

Collins’s support for Kavanaugh will go down in history as the beginning of the end of her career. Collins was infamously the deciding vote on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and for reasons unknown to political observers, she took ownership of the GOP’s strategy to undermine serious accusations made against him. Her nationally televised defense of his nomination, not to mention her embrace of Kavanaugh-adjacent conspiracies, have already undermined her brand. American Bridge will amplify this message every step of the way between now and November of 2020.

Her vote for Kavanaugh left her alone on an island as the sole vote in favor of his nomination from all of New England, a point that furthers the argument that she is out of step with her constituents. Her vote is reminiscent of former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s 2013 vote against the Manchin-Toomey background checks bill — a vote that similarly undermined Ayotte’s brand as a centrist and signaled the end of her career.

Collins is in lockstep with the GOP’s destructive agenda. Collins has a reputation as one of the last remaining moderates in the Senate. But a closer look at her record shows that her centrism comes and goes when it’s politically convenient. When push comes to shove, she inevitably falls in line with Republican leadership. Take healthcare, the electoral juggernaut of 2018. Collins made a big show of opposing multiple Republican ACA repeal bills as the 2018 election approached and voters turned against GOP healthcare sabotage. But before it was politically expedient to break from her party, she was fully in line with a Republican agenda that included full repeal of Obamacare and voted for a full repeal.

Collins was also a deciding vote for the Republican tax bill — which ballooned the deficit while seriously undermining healthcare by repealing the individual mandate. And that’s before you examine the additional economic impacts of the legislation further rigging the economy for the rich at everyone else’s expense. She’s a moderate in name only; at the end of the day she will side with a Republican caucus that is just too extreme for Maine.

Collins is on notice. American Bridge will leverage hours of tracking and media monitoring footage in our archives and existing opposition research to target Collins out of the gate in 2019. American Bridge researchers have already started investigating Collins’s political associates, financial ties, and legislative career, including her husband’s career as a Washington lobbyist that could overlap with her official work.

Collins has gotten a pass in previous races based on a carefully-crafted moderate profile. But her actions of the last two years have undermined that persona entirely, leaving her on the outs with voters who were willing to support her in the past.  In 2020, a newly energized and increasingly blue Maine electorate will be much less favorable to Collins than any race she has ever run before.

Collins is the most vulnerable Senate incumbent of 2020, and in a year that will be a referendum on a deeply unpopular Republican president, it’s easy to see that her days are numbered. If she chooses to forego retirement and run for reelection she will lose.

Download the memo here.