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Supreme Court, campaign spending stir up Political Brew

Don Carrigan talks with analysts Phil Harriman and Betsy Sweet about the Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett

MAINE, USA — The Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett dominated discussion on this week’s Political Brew, but campaign spending wasn’t far behind. Analysts Phil Harriman and Betsy Sweet agreed that Barrett handled herself well and showed her intelligence and capabilities during the days of grilling by Senate Democrats. Both also said they didn’t see anything in the hearing to change the expected outcome of approval for Barrett. 

Campaign spending in Maine’s fiercely-contested race for U.S. Senate prompted agreement between the Republican (Harriman) and Democratic (Sweet) analysts, with a single word: disgusting. 

On Friday the latest available fundraising totals for the race showed Democrat Sara Gideon had raised roughly $39.4 million in the third quarter of the year, for total fundraising for her own campaign, as of October 1, of more than $63 million dollars. Collins is well behind in dollars, having raised over $8.3 million in the third quarter for a total to October 1 of $25.2 million. 

In addition to those staggering amounts, reports indicate outside groups, including PACs, have put $70 million dollars into their own efforts to influence Maine’s Senate election. 

“This is an auction, not an election,” said Sweet, who termed the massive amounts of money "disgusting."

Harriman agreed with that term, saying most of those people and groups donating to the campaigns are from outside Maine and care nothing about the issues here, only using the race to push their national agendas.

As for the Senate race itself, both agreed the election is likely to be close, despite Thursday’s Pan Atlantic Research poll showing Gideon with a 7 point lead. Harriman said the survey for that poll was done between October 2-6, and that there may be a lot changing in the race as more voters make final decisions on how they want to vote.

Sweet said voter turnout, both through absentee and in-person voting, will be the critical factor in the Senate race.