The Lincoln Project, a super PAC run by current and former anti-Trump Republicans, is turning its attention to the US Senate race in Maine between Senator Susan Collins and her Democratic rival, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, with a pricey advertising campaign.
In the ad, launched online and on television Wednesday morning, the group targets Collins as a “fraud” who is controlled by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and casts her as failing to live up to Maine’s tradition of sending independent-minded legislators to Washington.
“Susan Collins never stands up to Donald Trump. That’s why Maine is done with her weakness and excuses,” a narrator says in the ad, which does not mention her opponent.
The group, which was founded by several anti-Trump conservatives including former New Hampshire Republican Party chair Jennifer Horn and George Conway, husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, is spending $1 million on the Collins ad campaign, according to the Portland Press Herald.
“The Lincoln Project joins at least 13 other Democratic billionaire-funded groups who have tried to come into Maine and buy this Senate race with false advertising. Mainers know Senator Collins, and they’ve shown over and over again that this type of venomous, DC-style scorched earth politics doesn’t work in our state,” Riley Ploch, a spokesperson for the Collins campaign, said in a statement to the Globe on Wednesday. “This ad is a perfect example of how Sara Gideon is running her campaign - dodging debates, staying hidden in Chuck Schumer’s windowless basement, and letting billionaire Democratic donors run attack ads on her account.”
Though known for its scathing anti-Trump videos, the Lincoln Project is also targeting a handful of vulnerable Republican senators up for reelection in 2020. In April, it released a video promising to help Collins, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina “on their way to forced retirement.”
The super PAC also released ads on Wednesday boosting Democrat Al Gross’s bid to unseat Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan and Democrat Governor Steve Bullock’s campaign against Republican Montana Senator Steve Daines. It is spending $4 million in total on the campaigns, according to Axios.
The ad buy in Maine marks the latest infusion of cash into what is already the most expensive campaign in the state’s history. In addition to the millions raised by Collins and Gideon, outside groups are spending heavily on the race. According to the Bangor Daily News, such groups have spent more than $16 million so far, mostly on television ads.
Collins’ seat in Maine is among several that Democrats are eyeing in November as they look to flip the Republican-controlled Senate, and a recent poll in Maine shows a tight race. The poll, released by Colby College on Tuesday, found Gideon leading Collins by five percentage points, 44 percent to 39 percent. The poll also found that just 15 percent of respondents said they thought Collins was “not tied to either party and is independent-minded.” It has a margin of error of 3.9 percent.