In order for this campaign to be successful, I think it’s important that we choose action items where 1) Collins has direct control over the issue and 2) we have good reason to believe she can be persuaded.
The first point is why I’ve focused on the few cabinet nominees she gets to vote for in committee before they go to the full Senate floor (DeVos, Puzder, and Pompeo), vs. the other nominees who are equally, if not more, concerning. As for the second point of picking fights we can win, it’s an uphill battle due to the longstanding precedent of Senators allowing Presidents great leeway in choosing their own Cabinet, which is why even lefties like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders haven’t been voting against all Trump nominees (see here for a great tracker of all final Senate votes on nominees as they come). Collins has always been extremely careful about when she votes against the R party line, and you can be sure there’s no chance she’ll stick her neck out to vote against a nominee unless it’s clear that the entire Dem caucus is doing so.
Which brings us to DeVos. She meets the first requirement because Collins is one of 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats on the Senate HELP Committee who are voting on Tuesday on whether to recommend DeVos to the full Senate. If the Dems are unified against and Collins joins them, the nomination will be killed or withdrawn.
Importantly, DeVos also now meets the second requirement because:
- Beyond her disturbing anti-public education, pro-voucher, pro-Christian education ideology, she is quite objectively incompetent, unqualified, and seemingly disinterested in learning the laws and policies she would have to enforce. As a dedicated, hardworking, and extremely competent female Senator, this surely has to bother Collins.
- While they’ve strategically decided not to oppose every nominee, the Dems have signaled that they are completely unified against DeVos, with even moderate Angus King stating his opposition (which, by the way, is a great example of how Collins’ default voting patterns might change if she decided to go Indy and caucus with the Dems, like him).
- There seems to be significant outside momentum building against DeVos, best represented by this tweet from Maine’s own Stephen King last night asking his followers to call Collins specifically (>3000 retweets and counting!). The only problem with this is that it’s causing her phone lines to be jammed with out of state folks, which both prevents us Mainers from getting through and may actually have the opposite effect on Collins, if she gets the impression that the calls are driven by our of state interests.
Anyway, now’s our chance to strike our first major win. Let’s call Collins every weekday until Tuesday’s vote, urging her to vote against DeVos in committee because of her incompetence and ideological hostility to public education as we know it.
If you get a busy signal or VM, try another office, or try later in the day until you get a real person on the phone. Then wait to call again until the next day so other Mainers have a chance of getting through!
Thanks for all you do,
P.S. If we’re successful, it’s possible Trump could find someone else who’s even worse to replace her, but let’s cross that bridge when we come to it… 🙂