WASHINGTON — Democrat Craig Hickman won a competitive special election for the Maine Senate this week in a district that voted for Trump in 2016 and for Senator Susan Collins in 2020, becoming the first openly gay Black man to serve in the upper chamber. Hickman’s blowout victory speaks to his strengths as a candidate and represents an embarrassing setback for Maine Republicans in a swing seat that only voted for Biden by one point in November — and GOP strategists agree.
According to reporting in the Bangor Daily News, Republicans’ disarray in the wake of President Trump’s loss cost them a winnable race, at least in the view of Shawn Roderick, the GOP operative in charge of their Senate campaign apparatus:
He said Republicans knocking on doors saw numerous examples of voters focused on former President Donald Trump or U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ vote to convict him on an impeachment charge. The state party could censure her for that this weekend.
Some voters wanted Guerrette to condemn Collins, Roderick said. Some wanted him to condemn Trump. In the end, turnout was stacked in favor of Democrats.
“The party’s all over the place,” Roderick said. “I mean, you can see it in the vote: Republicans obviously stayed home.”
“Republicans are desperate to show a united front, but the results of this election show that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “National Republicans invested in this race hoping to wrest control in a swing district — and they failed. They can’t escape the shadow of Donald Trump and are stuck fighting among themselves. The GOP is without a message, a platform, or a direction. Democrats are united in fighting for the American people as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic and fight for a brighter future.”