Maine Grassroots Republicans Break from State GOP After Rejection of Susan Collins Censure

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 18: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the federal coronavirus response on Capitol Hill on March 18, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images)
Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

A group of about 25 conservative Maine Republicans, including six county chairmen and state committee members, have broken from the state Republican Party to form a new grassroots caucus.

An announcement about the newly formed caucus came just one day after the state Republican Party voted to reject censuring Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.

“The Maine Republican Party is not listening to the voices of disenfranchised Republicans that are trying to hold their elected officials accountable,” said Caucus Chair John DeVeau Sunday.

DeVeau dismissed concerns the grassroots caucus, described in a press release as a “kind of Maine-based version of the U.S. House Freedom Caucus,” might splinter the GOP in Maine.

“We didn’t create all these grassroots organizations that are furious with the state over the emergency lockdown restrictions still in place over a year since the COVID-19 health crisis began,” the former Caribou lawmaker, and current Aroostook County Republican Chair, said in a statement.

“We didn’t create the division, we’re actually trying to unify the Republican Party by giving the disenfranchised a voice at the statewide level and to restore the Constitutional balance of powers,” he added.

In the wake of the state Republican Party’s 41-19 vote Saturday to reject censuring Collins, Fox News reported Collins said, “Today’s decision is a testament to the Republican Party’s ‘big tent’ philosophy that respects different views but unites around core principles.”

But, according to NEWS CENTER Maine, DeVeau said Collins “went against her constituents” when she voted to impeach the former president.

“We decided we were going to do something about it,” he said.

Republicans in Aroostook County, Collins’ home county, handed the senator a censure vote for her decision to vote to impeach Trump.

The censure resolution, signed by 19 members, states:

Senator Collins’ public statements in support of the language, actions and promotion of an illegal, unethical, unconstitutional “impeachment” of former President Donald J. Trump, undermines the conservative and ethical values promoted by the Aroostook County Republicans and the Maine Republican Party and as demonstrated, is a purely self-serving, vindictive and punitive action by those with establishment political objectives.

The Aroostook County GOP said in a statement:

Collins faced down the backlash among Maine Republicans over her yes vote by saying the evidence was “very strong” that Trump incited an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The Maine Republican Party issued a letter to Collins a month later condemning her vote “in the strongest possible terms,” but it came only in the wake of widespread demands by Maine Republicans for the state party to take action.

Jason Savage, Maine GOP executive director, told NEWS CENTER Maine “it’s an internal matter,” and it is time to move on from the vote.

“Leadership of the party believes it’s settled in time to move forward with the 2022 elections in mind,” he said.

Collins spokesperson Annie Clark also told NEWS CENTER Maine in response to the formation of the new grassroots caucus the senator is “gratified by the support she continues to receive from the Maine Republican Party, which overwhelmingly rejected a censure motion by a 19-41 vote on Saturday.”

“She also appreciated the strong grassroots support she had all over the State as is indicated by the fact that she carried 85 percent of Maine’s communities in last fall’s election,” Clark added.

The grassroots group’s first official event will be in support of a Tax Day Rally by Maine Taxpayers United on Saturday, April 17, at the Capitol in Augusta.

The caucus also plans to work with conservative Maine lawmakers on various bills and other initiatives. Additionally, the caucus will coordinate with grassroots groups on social media, assisting town, city, and county committees in finding, training, and fundraising for candidates to run in 2022.

“We’re interested in trying to fix state issues because that’s what’s most important,” DeVeau said.

Breitbart News reached out for comment to Collins’ office and is awaiting a response.

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