Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Judiciary chairman who helped guide new associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh through his confirmation process, wants to raise $3 million to support the 2020 re-election campaign of the decisive Republican swing voter, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
Collins’ re-election is a far way off considering voters are still roughly a month away from heading to the polls for the 2018 midterms. But a cadre of progressive groups has already crowdsourced more than $4.4 million to bolster Collins’ Democratic opponent in 2020, money it would have used to back Collins had she voted against Kavanaugh, who was confirmed on Saturday on a mostly party line vote, 50-48.
Grassley called the progressive groups’ reward-punishment money offer “abominable,” and told Fox News he’d like to raise $3 million to help keep Collins in office.
“It just goes to show you how narrow the thinking of the opposition to Kavanaugh was, that they would say those extremist ... positions about a person that’s been with them most of the time,” Grassley said.
Collins shared the same sentiment in an interview on “60 Minutes” Sunday, saying her vote cannot be bought.
“This is a classic quid pro quo as defined in our bribery laws,” Collins said. “I think that if our politics has come to the point where people are trying to buy votes and buy positions, then we are in a very sad place.”
It’s unclear who will actually be the beneficiary of the $4.4 million raised by Be A Hero Team, Maine People’s Alliance, and Mainers for Accountable Leadership.
It just won’t be Collins.
A handful of potential candidates have expressed interest in running to oust Collins.
Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon posted on Facebook that after the November elections she will be “seriously considering” a 2020 senatorial bid.
Shortly after Collins’ extended speech last Friday in which she defended Kavanaugh and announced she would vote to confirm him, former Obama communications director Jen Psaki fired off a tweet asking who wanted to run against Collins in 2020. “There will be an army of supporters with you,” Psaki added.
Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, who has family ties to Maine, responded, “Me,” prompting a firestorm of speculation on the internet before Rice later clarified that she would have to look deeper into a possible run after November.
“I made the tweet, I later elaborated that this wasn’t where my head was,” Rice said Sunday at an event with the New Yorker. “But I have been moved by the enthusiasm. I’m going to give it due consideration after the midterms.”
Watch: Highlights of Susan Collins' Speech Confirming Vote for Kavanaugh