The GOP senator’s comments came after regulators asked, “Is the phrase” living is controversial “and is there a systematic racial discrimination issue here in Maine?” Although 94% of Mainers are considered white, the state is still home to large numbers of refugees, including Americans, Somalis and Sudanese. The early arrival of Somali refugees met with mixed reactions, including some notorious cases of rapid repatriation beginning in the early 2000s when the mayor of Lewiston argued that the city was occupied by the influx.
In response to the question, Collins also said, “I do not think the death sentence should be controversial,” adding that “it is clear that in some parts of our country there is a systematic racial discrimination or problem in the police department.”
Meanwhile, Republican senators praised the rule of law, saying “we are very fortunate in Maine because we have members who are fearful of the rule of law.”
Collins noted that she co-sponsored the police reform bill introduced in the Senate, although she referred to the bill as “unfortunate that it has once again become a victim of non-partisan politics.”
The Republicans also say that George Floyd’s death “should cause us all awe and that those responsible should be held accountable.” Floyd was killed in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department in late May, sparking national unrest with sustained protests and civil unrest over police misconduct and racial injustice, as well as calls for Congress to take action.
Democrat Gideon answered the same question: “Life is important and the reason we have to say it is because of this great heritage of this country that results in systematic racial discrimination,” and noted the existence of racial differences in Maine.
“It does not matter how white our state is – it still exists. When we look at what is happening, for example, the number of people of color in Maine has a positive rate of Covid infection and how much better we see it in terms of access to education for people of color, access to certain things, poor access to health care.”
The Maine Senate is one of the most closely watched and contested races in 2020, with just one day until election day, where congressional control and the White House are in line.
Democrats put Maine one of their top targets in Collins, a long-standing GOP nation facing a fierce battle in the state in which Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election.