Politics

Susan Collins to headline 2nd fundraiser for Christina Nolan’s Senate bid

Christina Nolan, left, in Montpelier on May 18, and Susan Collins in Washington, D.C. in February 2020. Photos by Natalie Williams/VTDigger and Keith Mellnick via Wikimedia Commons

Updated at 7:22 p.m.

Maine’s U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is once again going to bat for former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan’s campaign to represent Vermont in the U.S. Senate, with the two Republicans slated to appear alongside one another at another Washington, D.C., campaign fundraiser benefiting Nolan on Tuesday.

The fundraiser will be hosted by the Value In Electing Women Political Action Committee, or VIEW PAC, according to a copy of the invitation provided to VTDigger by Nolan’s campaign. Suggested donations for the event range from $500 to $2,500.

According to OpenSecrets, the Alexandria, Virginia-based VIEW PAC is a hybrid PAC/Super PAC, or so-called Carey committee. The PAC was founded in 1997 and promotes Republican women running for Congress. It has raised nearly $1.8 million in the 2022 midterm cycle, and spent nearly $1.7 million.

VIEW PAC Executive Director Julie Conway told VTDigger that the PAC is “the unofficial political arm of all of the Republican women in the Senate.” It doesn’t support every woman running for Congress with an R next to her name, but it has a big-tent approach to the candidates it backs.

“We don't have a litmus test. We think that you should look and sound like the district or the state you're running in,” Conway said. “You know, Susan Collins would not be elected in Texas, and so Susan Collins fits Maine very much the way we think Christina Nolan fits Vermont.”

Tuesday will mark the second time Collins has made an appearance at a Nolan fundraiser. At another event headlined by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky in May, Collins was a special guest, along with U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee (incumbents also backed by VIEW PAC).

Even with the top Democratic competitor for the open Senate seat being Vermont’s longtime Congressman Peter Welch, and President Joe Biden’s sizable margin of victory in Vermont in 2020, Conway said she sees a real opportunity to flip the open Senate seat from blue to red. She pointed to Vermont’s second-in-the-nation support for Gov. Phil Scott, a moderate Republican, and said that “Christina is a lot closer to the governor than she is to where Trump was” politically.

Scott’s favorability “clearly demonstrates that Vermont is capable of electing a Republican statewide, and certainly one that is in the mold of the current governor, and (Nolan) is,” Conway said. “And I think because the governor continues to be so popular, obviously he's greased the tracks for Christina's campaign.”

Collins is considered a moderate Republican in the upper chamber, and Nolan has cited her as a political role model. Like Nolan, Collins has carved out a niche for herself as a Republican who publicly called for Roe v. Wade case precedent protecting federal abortion access to remain in place.

But in June, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to overturn Roe. Two of the five conservative justices who voted to strike down federal abortion protections — Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — had assured Collins they believed Roe was “settled as precedent” before she voted to confirm them to the bench.

“The Supreme Court has abandoned a fifty-year precedent at a time that the country is desperate for stability,” Collins said in June. “This ill-considered action will further divide the country at a moment when, more than ever in modern times, we need the Court to show both consistency and restraint.”

In the wake of the high court’s June ruling, Nolan said in a statement that she would “take action to protect the right to abortion that was established in Roe v. Wade” should she win in November.

“In the wake of this decision, I fear that women’s health will take a backseat to extreme reactions and partisan anger,” Nolan said in June. “As a leader, I will put women’s health first and work to find a federal legislative solution.”

Vermont Democratic Party Executive Director Jim Dandeneau said in a Monday statement that Nolan “has already told us once that she’s opposed to abortion when she came out against (Proposal) 5,” which would enshrine reproductive rights in Vermont’s Constitution. 

“Now she’s telling us again by teaming up with the person responsible for packing the Court with extremist Republicans on the Supreme Court who just gutted abortion rights,” Dandeneau continued. “Vermonters overwhelmingly reject Susan Collins and Mitch McConnell’s anti-choice agenda, and I expect they will reject Christina Nolan in November as well.”

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Sarah Mearhoff

About Sarah

Sarah Mearhoff is one of VTDigger's political reporters, covering the Vermont statehouse, executive branch and congressional delegation. Prior to joining Digger, she covered Minnesota and South Dakota state politics for Forum Communications' newspapers across the Upper Midwest for three years. She has also covered politics in Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she is a proud alumna of the Pennsylvania State University where she studied journalism.

Email: [email protected]

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