Washington (CNN)Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican defending her seat in a aggressive reelection struggle, stated throughout a debate on Wednesday that she doesn’t suppose that systemic racism is an issue within the state.
“I don’t imagine systemic racism is an issue within the state of Maine,” Collins said at the debate hosted by CNN affiliate WMTW the place she confronted off towards Democratic challenger and state Home Speaker Sara Gideon.
The feedback from the GOP senator got here after the moderator requested, “Is the phrase ‘Black lives matter’ controversial and is there a systemic racism downside right here in Maine?,” noting that the overwhelming majority of state residents establish as white. Though 94% of Mainers establish as White, the state can also be residence to a large refugee group, together with Somali and Sudanese People.
In responding to the query, Collins additionally stated, “I do not suppose the phrase Black lives matter needs to be controversial,” and added, “it is clear that in some components of our nation there may be systemic racism or issues in police departments.”
On the identical time, the Republican senator praised legislation enforcement, saying, “we’re very lucky within the state of Maine as a result of we now have terrific members of legislation enforcement.”
Collins famous that she has co-sponsored police reform laws that has been launched within the Senate, although she stated of the invoice, “regrettably it grew to become the sufferer as soon as once more of partisan politics.”
The Maine Republican additionally stated that George Floyd’s dying “ought to horrify all of us and people accountable needs to be held accountable.” Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody in late Might, an occasion that sparked a nationwide outcry together with sustained protests and civil unrest over the problem of police misconduct and racial injustice, in addition to requires Congress to behave.
Gideon, the Democratic challenger, responded to the identical query by saying, “Black lives do matter and the explanation we now have to say it’s as a result of there’s a legacy of bigotry on this nation that ends in systemic racism,” and noting the existence of racial disparities in Maine.
“It would not matter how white our state is — it nonetheless exists. After we take a look at the incidences, for instance, of the variety of individuals of coloration who right here within the state of Maine had a constructive Covid an infection fee and the way outsized that was in comparison with the remainder of the inhabitants. We see it by way of entry to training for individuals of coloration, entry to well being care, charges of poverty, charges of incarceration, and we do must do one thing about it,” Gideon stated.
The Maine Senate race is without doubt one of the most closely-watched and aggressive of 2020 with simply days till Election Day the place the management of Congress and the White Home are on the road.
Senate Democrats have made Maine one in all their prime targets the place Collins, a long-time GOP incumbent, is dealing with a tricky reelection struggle in a state that Hillary Clinton gained within the 2016 presidential election.