Collins Quadruples Election Fundraising Amid Kavanaugh Backlash
- Fellow Republicans, hedge fund executives among donors
- Cornyn, McConnell, Graham lead 2020 cycle campaign cash
Susan Collins, whom Democrats have threatened to target for her some of her votes, is raising campaign money at a much faster pace than in her previous re-election bids.
The Maine Republican, who’s seeking a fifth Senate term in 2020, began April with $3.8 million in her campaign fund after raising more than $1.5 million in the first three months of the year, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
Her first-quarter receipts amounted to more than four times the $374,000 she raised in the first quarter of 2013, when Collins was beginning a 2014 campaign she would go on to win easily.
No top-flight challenge to Collins has yet materialized, though Democrats say they’ll give her a tougher fight after some of her votes, including her 2018 vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court and the 2017 tax cut package.
Collins and Cory Gardner (Colo.) are the only two Republican senators seeking re-election next year in states President Donald Trump didn’t win.
Among the Republican senators currently seeking re-election, only three had more in campaign cash-on-hand than Collins: John Cornyn (Texas), formerly the second-ranking Senate Republican, who had $7.4 million; Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who had $5.6 million banked, and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), a key Trump ally who had $4.6 million left to spend.
Collins’s first-quarter contributor list reads like a who’s who of Republican businessmen-donors.
Collins’s financial backers included Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman; Robert Mercer, the former co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies and an influential backer of Trump’s 2016 campaign; Home Depot Inc. co-founder Bernard Marcus; hedge-fund executive Daniel Loeb; and Missouri businessman Sam Fox.
Some Senate colleagues also chipped in. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) donated to Collins’s campaign through their leadership political action committees. So did Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), the House minority leader.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which gave Collins an 80 out of 100 on its 2018 vote scorecard, sent her $3,500 through its PAC.
She’s been overwhelmingly re-elected — with 58 percent of the vote in 2002, 61 percent in 2008, and 67 percent in 2014 — in part by emphasizing a bipartisan image. For the 115th Congress, Collins was highest-scoring senator on the Lugar Center’s bipartisanship index, which indicates the degree to which members of Congress work across party lines.
Early in the 116th Congress, she aligned with Democrats in voting against against Andrew Wheeler to be Environmental Protection Agency administrator and to block Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to pay for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
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