FREEPORT – The only time he hears from his State Representative, who also happens to be the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, is when she fills his inbox with fundraising emails for her U.S. Senate campaign, says Chip Gray of Freeport.
In a recent tweet from Team Collins, the Twitter account run by the campaign staff of Senator Susan Collins, Chip’s frustration with Gideon was put on full display in a letter he wrote about the lack of support he was getting as a business owner in the era of COVID-19 from Gideon.
“Sara Gideon is our state representative here in Freeport, she started her political career here on the Freeport town council,” begins the letter from Mr. Gray.
“We supported her for each step of the way. We have had dozens of emails asking for support for her Senate run against Susan Collins, but nothing in the way of help dealing with the crisis we face today,” continues the letter.
“No support for the plan proposed to use some of the Cares Act funding to help us, nothing about calling the legislature into session to help with the State’s (and her hometown’s) businesses.”
“In contrast, Susan Collins contacted me on Easter Sunday to explain a confusing section of the Paycheck Protection Program that we needed help with.
“Sara Gideon isn’t helping. Susan Collins is.”
Gray signs off from his business, the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport.
The message was one of dozens that Team Collins has released in recent days as they draw attention to the lack of legislative activity in Maine in dealing with Governor Mills’ COVID-19 lockdown, which has done severe damage to some parts of Maine’s economy.
Last week marked 100 days since Gideon and Senate President Troy Jackson adjourned the legislature, and they have resisted constant demands to return to work in recent weeks.
That hasn’t stopped Gideon from working on her own political aspirations.
With the legislature shuttered, Gideon has focused solely on her campaign for U.S. Senate. Among other things, Gideon has held dozens of digital campaign events and tweeting on her campaign account more than 400 times while blanketing television airwaves with attack ads.
In one series of tweets, Gideon even went so far as to attack Senator Collins claiming Maine needed more federal dollars for COVID relief while at the same time refusing to return to Augusta to appropriate existing COVID relief funds. At that time, there was more than $1.2 billion in federal dollars for COVID relief sitting unused in Maine state government coffers.
In contrast to Gideon, who lives just 39 miles from the state capitol in Augusta but is refusing to come back to work – Senator Susan Collins has still never missed a vote in the U.S. Senate. That despite living nearly 700 miles from the capitol and the Senate conducting business during the pandemic.
Collins’ team is eager to point out that Collins not only managed to execute both her job as a U.S. Senator and as a candidate, but that she has had major influence on legislation that helped Maine, including authoring the Paycheck Protection Program. According to a Washington Post fact check of a Gideon attack ad, the program authored by Collins, designed to help workers impacted by COVID avoid relying on overwhelmed unemployment systems to get through state shutdowns, has helped more than 78% of Maine small businesses with 1-499 employees.
The 2020 U.S. Senate race is poised to be the most expensive election in Maine history.