The Human Rights Campaign announced its opposition to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’s reelection bid, with the country’s largest LGBTQ rights advocacy organization instead opting to endorse House Speaker Sara Gideon.
The endorsement of Gideon, Collins’ opponent, comes a day after Gideon easily won the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. It was first reported by The Washington Post.
In a statement, Alphonso David, the group’s president, cited the senator’s 2018 vote to confirm U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which drew a massive challenge from national Democrats.
“We are fighting for our lives and the only way to advance LGBTQ equality through the United States Senate is to install a new pro-equality majority leader and replace [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell,” David said in a statement.
Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley dismissed the switch as “partisan politics.” He said the senator has been an ally to the LGBTQ community in her 24-year career, citing a glowing 2014 endorsement statement from the group saying she has “played a pivotal role in advancing support for LGBT equality.”
“This is not how you treat a friend and ally,” he said.
Seen as a longtime moderate in a party that has swung sharply rightward, Collins was one of eight Senate Republicans to vote in 2010 to end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that banned openly gay men and women from serving. In 2014, she was the fourth Republican senator to state support for same-sex marriage.
Kelley said that contrary to earlier press reports that said the rejection marked the first time the Human Rights Campaign had declined to endorse Collins, the organization opted not to endorse her in 1996.