A good post mortem of how the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) made it impossible for Sara Gideon to beat Susan Collins.
Basically, it comes down to the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) selecting an uninspiring candidate, and then flooding the zone with so much money in negative ads, mailers, etc. that Gideon still has $14 million in campaign funds left over, (over $10 unspent for every man, woman, and child in Maine) that any she might have beyond the, “Collins is a Republican,” message was obscured.
The Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) needs to be dismantled root and branch:
Democrat Sara Gideon’s bid to unseat Sen. Susan Collins was doomed the day after she announced she was running.
Gideon, a state legislator from Freeport who was then Maine’s Speaker of the House, formally announced her candidacy on Monday, June 24, 2019. The next day, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), a powerful political organization controlled by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other top members of the party establishment, announced it was backing her campaign.
At the time, the DSCC’s endorsement was perceived as a huge boost for Gideon. It would ensure her campaign would be well funded and guided by the brightest political minds in the business.
In retrospect, it was the kiss of death — a guarantee her campaign would be ugly, uninspiring, obscenely expensive, and out of touch with local concerns. Despite spending nearly $60 million, twice as much as Collins’ campaign did, Gideon lost by over 8 percentage points, more than 70,000 votes, in a state where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by over 74,000.
Incessant negative advertising by outside groups helped make this race the most expensive in Maine’s history. It also made a mockery of Gideon’s oft-repeated pledge to “limit the influence of big money in politics.” Republicans were quick to call the DSCC’s endorsement proof that Gideon was a puppet of Beltway powerbrokers, and her two Democratic primary challengers were equally critical. “The DC elite is trying to tell Mainers who our candidate should be,” Betsy Sweet, one of those challengers, tweeted that summer.
But, crucially, the DSCC’s endorsement also limited the impact of Gideon’s positive messages, the campaign promises she made to improve the lives of everyday Mainers.
In the aftermath of Election Day, some top Democrats sought to blame progressives for the party’s poor showing in Senate and House races, but the DSCC’s record speaks for itself. Of the 18 Senate candidates endorsed by the committee, only four were victorious last month (two contenders, both in Georgia, failed to win on Nov. 3 but qualified for runoff elections next month).
As the campaign gained speed, the pandemic and the national uprising against police brutality gave Gideon two big opportunities to break from the moderate pack and distinguish herself from Collins, who denied that “systemic racism” is a “problem” in Maine, and whose Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a fraud-riddled failure. But Gideon’s position on racial justice was limited to training-manual adjustments like banning chokeholds and racial profiling, as well as further study of the problems that have plagued Black Americans since Reconstruction. Her credibility to criticize the PPP was compromised by the million or more dollars her husband’s law firm got from the program. And Republican critics took to social media daily to point out that, as far as anyone could tell, the House Speaker was doing practically nothing to help Mainers crushed by COVID-19.
While her constituents worried about keeping their jobs and homes, Gideon’s campaign bombarded them with tens of millions of dollars’ worth of ads, including pleas for them to give her money. The fundraising juggernaut engineered by her highly paid political consultants badgered Mainers for more cash till the bitter end.
Lisa Savage, a longtime Green Party activist and educator who ran as an independent in this ranked-choice Senate race and finished third, said a member of her team calculated how much each candidate spent per vote received. Savage spent $4.69 per vote, Collins about $65, and Gideon over $200.
“The model this cycle — and the model I am certain we’ll see repeated as Chuck Schumer continues on as Minority Leader — is that the party chooses a candidate they expect to bring in money, a candidate who will go along with corporate interests that fund the legions of Democratic campaign professionals that keep the machine running,” [Bre] Kidman [One of Gideon’s primary opponents] continued. “Mainers could smell the disingenuousness a mile away and, frankly, I don’t think the top-dollar, out-of-state consultants who worked on the campaign did anything at all to mask it.”
Gideon “didn’t have a single Maine person on her [communications] team,” said Savage. “Not one. They just don’t understand Maine.”
A review of the Gideon campaign’s finance filings reveals page after page of big payments to out-of-state consulting firms and media companies. DSCC executive director Mindy Myers personally received over $100,000 from Gideon’s campaign for consulting services. Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic ad agency that also worked for Biden this year, was paid over $8 million. Aisle 518 Strategies, a D.C. digital fundraising outfit, raked in over $6 million.
This is not political consulting, this is looting.
A key race for a Maine Senate seat this year illustrates how Gideon’s result may have been different had she run a less toxic and more responsive campaign. Democrat Chloe Maxmin, a progressive state lawmaker from the midcoast town of Nobleboro, challenged Republican Dana Dow, then the Minority Leader of the Maine Senate, and won. Maxmin ran a “100% positive” campaign “grounded in community values, not Party or ideology,” her website declared.
Maxmin and her local team created all their ads and adjusted content based on voter feedback. They knocked on over 13,000 doors in her rural, Republican-leaning district. The voters they encountered had no interest in the type of who-took-money-from-who sniping that characterized the U.S. Senate race. “The things I hear from people are, ‘We want good jobs here, we want to live in a rural place and make a good living,’” Maxmin said. “‘We want to know our children will have the same opportunity.’”
The goal of the Democratic Party establishment (There is no Democratic Party establishment) is not to win elections, it is to profit from Democratic Party campaigns.
They are parasites.