After Sen. Collins’ Kavanaugh Vote, Challengers Rise for 2020 Seat

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Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins may be in trouble.

After declaring her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last week, local activists raised over $3.6 million to unseat Collins in 2020.

The Maine senator’s controversial decision sparked outrage from activists and her constituents who opposed Kavanaugh's nomination for weeks amid sexual assault allegations and concerns of Roe v. Wade.

Collins backed Kavanaugh after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct. The newly-appointed U.S. Supreme Court justice underwent an FBI investigation in wake of the allegations before he was confirmed Saturday in a 50-48 vote.

Jim Melcher, a political science professor at the University of Maine Farmington, said as a result of Collins’ vote, there is an intense anger with her, particularly with liberal women.

"It was like a betrayal to women," said Melcher. "There could be carrying power (from the anger) through the next two years. There never has been this depth of anger toward her like this time."

A crowdfunded campaign created by Maine’s People Alliance, Mainers for Accountable Leadership and activist Ady Barkan, to fund the Maine Democrat who will challenge Collins in 2020.

In an interview with "60 Minutes," Collins called the crowdfunded campaign a "classic quid pro quo." Collins added that if individuals are buying votes and positions, "then we are in a very sad place," in the political sphere.

After Collins' decision to confirm Kavanaugh, many speculate who may challenge her in the 2020 election.

Susan Rice, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted out a response to former White House Communications Chief Jen Psaki, that she could challenge Collins.

Rice was promoted from her role as U.S. ambassador to national security adviser under former President Barack Obama. Although she does not currently live in the state, she has family ties to Maine. Rice spoke this weekend at the New Yorker Festival and said that she will contemplate on running after November.

Maine’s current house speaker, Sara Gideon, wrote a statement on her Facebook page that she is focusing on electing Janet Mills for Maine’s gubernatorial race this midterm election. However, Gideon hinted that she may seek a potential run in 2020 after midterms.

She said she is considering how to "elevate the voices of people who deserve and demand to be heard and represented in Washington, D.C."

Zak Ringelstein is a Democratic candidate running against Maine's Sen. Angus King, an independent incumbent running for re-election during this year's midterm contests. If Ringelstein loses in November, a potential run in two years is an option for the young candidate. However, he has not made a final decision yet.

Ringelstein told NBC10 Boston he is committed to defeating Collins after her "yes" vote. He added that he will do whatever it takes to defeat her -- whether it is running against Collins himself or backing the Democratic candidate.

"I think it's an utter disgrace to the state and country Collins voted for Kavanaugh," said Ringelstein. "Many people in Maine want to unseat her."

Diane Russell served in Maine’s House of Representatives.

Diane Russell, a Democrat who served in Maine's state House of Representatives, organized protests in Washington after Collins announced her vote. However, she announced in a Facebook post that she will no longer run for office.

"We do not need an answer today on who will run in 2020," she wrote. "We need to grieve and then focus on electing Janet T. Mills to be our next Governor."

Other potential Democratic candidates who are mulling over a run in two years include Emily Cain, Jared Golden, Adam Cote and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree. Melcher said that Cain, Cote and Gideon would be strong Democratic candidates against Collins in 2020.

Cain was the state’s former House minority leader and now works for Emily’s list, a D.C.-based organization that supports pro-choice Democratic women running for office. Cote, a U.S. veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnian wars, once ran for Maine’s 1st Congressional District, but lost in 2008.

A potential challenger within Collins’ own party could be Max Linn. Linn ran as a Republican for the U.S. Senate nomination but was disqualified due to fraudulent voter signatures.

Linn teased a run in 2020 after a third-straight court loss over the state’s ruling the pro-Trump Republican candidate did not qualify for the 2018 primary.

"We’re going to talk about 2020 in 2020," said Annie Clark, Collins' communications director. "But just for the record, we know there will be a Democratic candidate for the Senate in 2020, and it makes no difference to us who it is."

However, Maine Democrats are still keeping their eye on the 2018 midterm election.

The Maine Republican Party did not respond to requests for a comment by NBC10 Boston and necn.

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