What to watch for in tonight’s U.S. Senate debate

Discussion of Gideon’s taxes, her hypocrisy, her lack of knowledge on critical issues, and her 6-month vacation during COVID

Members of the press:

Senator Collins and Speaker Gideon will be debating tonight in Presque Isle, a few miles down Route 1 from Collins’s home town of Caribou.

What to watch for tonight:

  • Gideon’s tax scandal should be front and center in light of intense national attention stemming from the New York Times piece on President Trump's taxes. Gideon has a long history of dodging taxes. Her family business racked up 77 tax liens during Gideon’s time on the Freeport Town Council, and the Gideons still owe between $50,000 and $100,000 from their business's 2011 collapse into foreclosure.

  • Gideon has been falsely touting her “Suppers with Sara” as open town hall forums, but a just-released video showed her staff restricting access to the tightly controlled, invitation only events.

  • Gideon skipped debates during the Democratic primary, and has refused to respond to Collins’ challenge to debate in each Maine county. And the first debate showed why: Gideon was caught flat-footed when Collins asked her about Chief Justice Roberts. Gideon didn’t appear to even know who Roberts was, severely undercutting her claims that the Supreme Court was her primary reason for getting in the race.

  • Gideon will again try to nationalize Maine’s Senate race by focusing solely on President Trump. This will present a sharp contrast to Sen. Collins’s roots in Aroostook County and her strong record of bipartisan accomplishment - which has resulted in support for critical Aroostook infrastructure and economic development projects.

  • Gideon’s hypocrisy on core issues will also likely be front and center. You will hear her decry corporate PAC donations, despite the fact that she built her political career on direct corporate donations from Pharma and fossil fuel companies. You will hear her discuss campaign finance reform, despite her multiple campaign finance violations, including recent allegations that her campaign illegally coordinated with outside groups running millions of dollars of TV ads in Maine.

  • Lastly, Gideon’s lack of support for Maine and Aroostook County during this pandemic will stand in sharp contrast to Collins’s work on the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program. Speaker Gideon adjourned the Legislature and hasn’t been back to work for more than 6 months, focusing instead on her Senate campaign. House Republican Leader Kathleen Dillingham recently told the Portland Press Herald, “Speaker Gideon has failed to discuss with us the possibility of a limited session agenda, has made no attempt to talk with any Republicans about working together and yet continues to say she will work with anyone to help Maine.” “Claiming to work across the aisle to help bring people together, while making no real attempt to do so during a national emergency, isn’t working together and is a failure of leadership.” Senator Collins, on the other hand, has been successfully fighting for critical funding for Maine and Aroostook, as she has for 24 years.

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