Just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Sen. Susan Collins will be marking the occasion at a California fundraiser, where she is being feted as the “hero of the Kavanaugh confirmation,” according to an invitation obtained by The Intercept and Documented.
On Wednesday, October 2, the Lincoln Women’s Leadership Committee will host Collins at Orange County’s private Pacific Club for an invitation-only lunch and reception to benefit her reelection. Tickets for a private reception beforehand are $500, and seats at the head table during lunch start at $1,000. The committee is part of the Lincoln Club of Orange County, founded in 1962 as an alliance of wealthy Republican donors in Orange County. Lincoln Club Executive Director Seth Morrison said the event is closed to press.
According to data published by the Center for Responsive Politics, 96 percent of the cash raised by the Collins campaign this cycle has been from out of state. She has received $162,000 from donors in Maine, but raised more than three times as much ($504,000) from donors in California, and in New York ($573,000).
Former Rep. Mimi Walters, a California Republican who was ousted in 2018 by Democrat Katie Porter, will introduce the Republican senator from Maine. Porter’s win was part of a seismic shift in Orange County, in which Democrats swept House Republicans completely out of office, part of an ongoing realignment in which Democrats have begun to dominate suburban districts.
Collins is known for her ability to turn herself into the victim of an opponent’s political machinations, and the Lincoln women portrayed her as one in the Kavanaugh saga: “As you know, her actions during the Kavanaugh hearings have made her a #1 target among the radical left,” the invitation reads.
Collins’s actions, while celebrated in GOP circles, have been the subject of controversy in Maine, as her speech on October 5 of last year announcing her decision to support Kavanaugh called into question the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her. Collins argued that Blasey Ford “testified that although she does not remember how she got home that evening, she knew that because of the distance she would have needed a ride. Yet, not a single person has come forward to say that they were the ones who drove her home or were in the car with her that night. And Prof. Ford also indicated that even though she left that small gathering of six or so people abruptly and without saying goodbye and distraught, none of them called her the next day or ever to ask why she left. ‘Is she OK?’”
Throughout the confirmation process, former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were working furiously behind the scenes to win support for Kavanaugh, and Collins is something of an honorary member of the Bush family, having risen through politics as a protégé of Bush the first. Kavanaugh is an honorary member too, having married the younger Bush’s longtime personal secretary while his nomination to the federal bench was stalled by Democrats between 2003 and 2006.
Last year, activist Ady Barkan, deploying an innovative new pressure tactic, raised millions in pledges for Collins’s yet-to-be-nominated Democratic opponent that would only be released if she voted to confirm Kavanaugh. Collins is now being challenged by a number of Democrats, with Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon her most likely opponent in 2020. Another Democrat in the race, Betsy Sweet, is being supported by Justice Democrats. Neither Collins nor her Democratic opponent will lack for money in what will be one of the most watched races in the country, as control of the Senate hangs in the balance. Democrats must flip three seats net, and win the presidency, to reclaim the Senate.
On Sunday, Kavanaugh opponents will rally at the Supreme Court to call on Democrats to continue to investigate Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve. Collins didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update: October 2, 2019, 11:47 a.m.
This post has been updated to include information on Collins’s out-of-state fundraising for 2020.