Recently, Press Herald editorial writer, Bill Nemitz wrote two columns, “The ‘Country Girl’ versus the woman ‘from away,'” (Nov. 8) and “‘Bill Green’s Maine’ just took on a whole new meaning,” (Nov. 4) in which he appeared to imply Green and Senator Collins’ Maine roots were somehow responsible for the stunning Collins’ victory.

Nemitz’s explanation for the outcome is simplistic at best, and distracts from what should be a time of deep reflection for Maine Democrats seeking statewide office in Maine. The real story of this election started nearly two years ago, just after the melee and national embarrassment that was the Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation process. Democrat partisans seized on the confirmation as a rallying call to progressives, saying that abortion rights and health care were under attack.

National progressives immediately raised $4 million dollars and reserved it for any Democrat that won the yet to be decided Maine Democrat primary.

A plan was hatched by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to take out Senator Collins. Calls were made to loyal Democrat groups in Maine that normally align with Sen. Collins, such as the League of Conservation Voters, unions at Bath Iron Works, Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club, and like clockwork they flipped their support to the Democratic candidate, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon.

The problem is, members of these groups are not cult followers; they have a fierce independent streak and a mind of their own. For decades, Mainers have heard these same group leaders praise Sen. Collins for her independence and nonpartisan approach to lawmaking. Now the same leaders were telling their followers to forget the past, that Collins has changed. This was the first mistake by Schumer and these progressive Maine groups.

National Democrats moved swiftly and rallied their campaign contributors from around the country and hired national consultants to begin an ad campaign to destroy Sen. Collins’ greatest strength: public trust. Like a storm surge, the national money and the negative ads swarmed our television, radio, social media, mailboxes, roadsides; there was no escape. The theme was the same, “You can’t trust Collins.”

Maine voters were confused, national Republicans countered, and millions more poured into the state to defend Collins, and the money war was on. The Gideon-Collins race consumed our state and election in a way never seen before. We were on the cusp of nationalizing our elections and Mainers were mere spectators.

Trust is a strange thing. It can’t be bought by consultants or even $200 million dollars in election spending. In order to earn it, one must always seek the road that starts with sound principles, truth and transparency. Whether you agree with Sen. Collins or not on the issues, she has always followed that formula.

Even under constant negative bombardment, the trusted relationships Sen. Collins had built with her constituents endured. Then came reinforcements. Bill Green, a man who has spent a lifetime living and loving Maine’s way of life, with no baggage, no agenda, emerged to tell Mainers what they instinctively knew: The attacks on Collins were nothing more than a smear campaign by national progressive groups hungry for power in Washington.

With just a month left in the campaign, the final shoe would fall, one of the organizations I work for, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Institute for Legislative Action, went all in for Sen. Collins.

We spent all of our available resources, and our vast communications network to methodically educate the outdoor community on the dramatic differences between Sen. Collins and Speaker Gideon. In our opinion, Gideon was the most extreme gun control candidate to ever seek statewide office in Maine and she confirmed it when she completed our SAM-ILA Legislative Questionnaire and then became a national voice for the gun control organization, Moms Demand Action. We did not lie or distort either candidate’s record, just informed and educated our outdoor community on the candidate’s records, positions on conservation and firearm rights.

This moment in the campaign marked the second fatal mistake made by Schumer and national Democrats. Firearm rights and conservation are the foundation of Maine’s outdoor heritage and these two issues know no party affiliation. Gideon’s position on conservation, compared to Collins’, was weak and her positions on firearm rights too extreme for Maine.

There are many lessons to be learned in the recent election. Mainers can’t be bought, and we love our rural way of life. Sen. Collins never changed; she has always acted in what she believed was our state’s best interests. The only thing that has changed was national progressive groups thought they could buy our election.

Thank God we rejected their efforts, otherwise, what we just endured would have become the new normal.

David Trahan is executive director of the Sportman’s Alliance of Maine. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of that group or its members.


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