A new Democratic candidate has emerged to challenge the reelection of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a four-term Maine Republican who is among the most prominent GOP politicians in the country.

Bre Kidman, a 31-year-old Saco attorney, said Sunday that since no other Democrats were jumping at the opportunity, someone had to take on the task.

Demcoratic candidate for U.S. Senate Bre Kidman, a Saco lawyer who hopes to defeat U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in the 2020 election. (Photo provided)

Kidman said Collins once stood out as “a real good moderate” but has turned ever more toward President Donald Trump and a hardcore Republican agenda, perhaps for fundraising reasons.

When a possible Democratic contender, Susan Rice, former national security adviser for President Barack Obama, recently declared that she wouldn’t run, Kidman called it a sign “that means I do this.”

One other Democrat, Cathleen London, a Washington County doctor, put her campaign on hold in January to deal with professional issues and hasn’t resumed the race. A few other party leaders are weighing whether to run but have yet to take the plunge.

Whoever winds up the Democratic candidate will have access to more than $4.4 million raised in two separate crowdsourced funds rounded up by Collins critics to help unseat her. Collins had $3.8 million in campaign cash on hand at the end of March.

There is one independent vying for the seat in the 2020 election, Danielle VanHelsing, 36, a transgender activist from Sangerville. She is trying to get campaign cash with a can and bottle drive.

A conservative Republican, Derek Levasseur of Fairfield a month ago announced his intention to try to defeat Collins in a primary.

“We need a candidate that supports President Trump, the Constitution and cares about the common people of Maine,” he declared on Facebook. He has yet to file formally as a candidate.

Kidman filed with the Federal Election Commission Friday but has been eyeing a possible race for months, including the creation of a campaign Facebook page on Election Day last November.

“Maine deserves more than a career politician in the Senate,” Kidman posted online Saturday. “Change is coming.”

Kidman said Sunday that a public campaign launch will be ready in the next few weeks. In the meantime, the attorney said, there is a lot to get done, from opening a campaign bank account to compiling initial call lists.

Kidman said that policy is what really matters, not the sort of political disputes that capture headlines. To help voters understand the issues, the Senate hopeful intends to hire an educational expert to help ensure campaign materials are written at a level that everyone can understand.

On Facebook, Kidman put it a little differently: “Folks, I may be a real-life cartoon character, but I’m coming in with the hard data and policy analysis Mainers deserve from the person representing their interests in the US Senate. Get ready.”

Kidman grew up in Rhode Island but spent considerable time with grandparents and other relatives in Maine. Kidman’s father is from Maine.

After graduating from Loyola University in Chicago, Kidman worked for a few years troubleshooting issues for consumers in a variety of jobs before deciding that it wasn’t enough.

“I wanted bigger problems to solve,” Kidman said, resulting in a decision to start taking classes at the University of Maine Law School in 2013.

At the time, Kidman planned to become a prosecutor, but by the time graduation rolled around, criminal defense work took precedence because accused criminals were the ones “getting the shortest end of the stick.”

Kidman worked for a small firm until creating a one-person operation recently that will provide the flexibility needed for a serious campaign against Collins.

Kidman aims “to become the first openly non-binary/queer senator,” a catch-all category for gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine‍.

One of the consequences is that Kidman prefers the use of “they or their” for pronouns that don’t assume gender. Another is that on the FEC filing, the candidate used Mx. rather than Mr. or Ms., preferring the uncommon honorific that isn’t tied to any gender.

Kidman is not married and doesn’t have any children. But two cats and a whole bunch of friends provide company, Kidman said.

It won’t be an easy campaign, Kidman said, but it is winnable.

Kidman said the plan is to “talk to as many people as I can” in the coming months to convince voters to turn away from Collins and choose a Democrat who “will show up with sleeves rolled up, ready to work.”

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