Progressives are unifying behind U.S. Senate candidate Betsy Sweet ahead of Maine’s July 14 Democratic primary, the contest that will determine which Democrat is on the ballot against Republican incumbent Susan Collins. Sweet earned endorsements from Marianne Williamson, the author and former presidential candidate who built a platform based on a “love revolution,” and the Sunrise Movement, a national youth-led, climate-activism organization.
The Sunrise Movement also endorsed another Democrat challenging Collins this year, attorney Bre Kidman. The third candidate in the race, Maine Speaker of the House Sara Gideon, chose not to participate in the organization’s candidate forum, and was not endorsed. Gideon’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding that decision.
Sweet is the only Senate candidate on Williamson’s list of endorsements, which she released on Monday.
“I was so honored to receive Marianne Williamson’s endorsement for our campaign for Senate,” Sweet said in a statement to Mainer. “I deeply admire her courage to stand with the American people and champion the winning progressive policies we need – including Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and paid family & medical leave for all.”
Sweet has also been endorsed by Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats, two groups that rose to national prominence in 2018 for their roles in the victorious Congressional campaigns of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib. Nicknamed “The Squad,” the four candidates won by campaigning for progressive policies, not just criticizing their opponents’ failures — a model Sweet hopes to emulate in Maine.
“We need to not only defeat Trump and Susan Collins in November, but to address the flaws in our system that brought Trump to us,” Sweet said. “Democrats need to nominate candidates whose platforms earn the support of all Americans, not just big donors, corporate super PACs, and party leadership.”
Gideon has been endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), a political action committee, or PAC, awash in corporate cash. For example, this past March, hedge fund titan Donald Sussman, the ex-husband of Democratic Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree and ex-owner of the Portland Press Herald, gave the DSCC $106,500.
The DSCC’s endorsement of Gideon last June came just one day after she announced her candidacy, a move that appalled Sweet and Kidman. Gideon’s gone on to raise many millions of dollars more than her Democratic rivals in the primary contest.
“I am genuinely disgusted by national Democrats’ decision to ordain the candidate a day after Sara Gideon’s announcement,” Kidman said at the time.
“The DC political elite is trying to tell Mainers who our candidate should be,” Sweet tweeted when the news broke.
Kidman said the Sunrise Movement’s endorsement is more significant than getting the nod from party elites. “For me it boils down to how close the people making political decisions are to the struggle,” they told Mainer. “If the decision-maker has a vested personal stake in the issue, the more likely I am to trust what they say. Sunrise is student and youth led, it’s people who are close to the struggle.”