Maine’s Senate race and the extinction of New England Republicanism

SOMETIMES SENATORS decide matters of national importance, such as confirming a Supreme Court justice, or whether to convict an impeached president. Sometimes their concerns are more prosaic. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new bell tower in Auburn, Susan Collins, a Republican seeking a fifth term as Maine’s senator, reminds guests that she helped secure $246,000 for the surrounding infrastructure. The previous day in Waterville, Mike Roy, the city manager, said Ms Collins secured funding to help improve its centre.

Ms Collins’s Democratic opponent, Sara Gideon, the speaker of Maine’s House of Representatives, hopes that national concerns prevail. At an outdoor dinner beneath a tent in Farmington, she told the crowd that “we feel very left behind” by Ms Collins’s “ side with” Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. She discussed the Supreme Court and health care, and won applause for deriding the amount of money in politics and proposing a lifetime ban on members of Congress becoming lobbyists. Mr Trump currently trails his Democratic opponent by more than 13 points in Maine, so Ms Gideon’s strategy—lashing Ms Collins to Mr Trump—makes sense. It also appears to be working: she leads Ms Collins, who won her last Senate race by 37 points, by 3.6. If that lead holds, Democrats will celebrate: they would probably need Ms Collins’...

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