Collins maintains early lead in Maine Senate race, but race too close to call

(The Center Square) – U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine remained in a tight race to keep her seat and possibly help Republicans retain control of the U.S. Senate.

By about 11:30 p.m., with 50 percent of precincts reporting, Collins had 51.7 percent of the vote, while Sara Gideon, the Democratic Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, had 42 percent of the vote. The race remained too close to call.

Two independent candidates, Lisa Savage and Max Linn, are also vying for the seat.

Because Maine uses a “ranked choice” system, and voters rank their candidates, if no candidate receives more than half of the ballots cast (called “50 percent plus one”), votes are recalculated based on voters’ second, and potentially third, choice.

The process continues until a candidate has more than 50 percent of the vote.

“I knew this would be a tough race,” the Portland Press Herald quoted Collins as saying. “My opponent certainly has thrown everything at me but the kitchen sink. In fact I think that’s coming next. The other side thought they could come to Maine and just run negative ads, dump loads and loads, millions of dollars, and just buy this Senate seat. But is that the Maine way? No, it certainly is not.”

Collins was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and the only Republican from New England in the 116th Congress. Last month, Collins was the only Republican to vote against Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gideon was elected state House speaker in 2016.

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