Kidman discusses unconventional Senate campaign

By Kendra Caruso | Nov 20, 2019
Photo by: Kendra Caruso Bre Kidman talks at a Waldo County Democrats meeting in Brooks Nov. 10.

Brooks — Bre Kidman spoke to Waldo County Democrats at the Varney Community Building Sunday, Nov. 10, in hopes of attracting their votes on Super Tuesday in March. Kidman is one of six Democratic candidates seeking incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ seat.

Kidman was the first Democrat to declare their run last spring after frustrations with Collins over her vote to support U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Collins allowed Kidman to meet with a staffer, who listened to their complaints but was evasive on questions about Collins’ nomination intentions. The staffer ended the conversation with “Sen. Collins has a lot to think about.”

That was enough to light a fire inside Kidman, who decided that if change were to happen, they would have to be the change.

“I’m not a product,” Kidman said. “I’m a movement.”

The non-binary candidate is an attorney, but describes themself as not the typical lawyer-turned-politician found in Washington. They are a criminal defense attorney who wants to reshape the campaign system to prevent corporations from donating large sums of money.

Kidman spoke to a small crowd in a casual manner. One attendee thought it might be too relaxed and gave them advice on how to speak publicly.

The candidate said they get comments like that from many people, but thinks their biggest asset is not speaking like a candidate. This and Kidman’s young, non-binary image differentiates them from other major party candidates with large campaign contributions, according to them.

“I never intended to run — I have green hair,” Kidman said. “ … I’m not the kind of person you see in politics.”

Even though Kidman said they are not holding events to raise campaign funds, the candidate has received donations of more than $14,000, according to the Federal Election Commission’s website. It shows that $9,560 of that came from four Maine residents and six out-of-state residents, with the majority coming from Maine residents.

Kidman criticized Collins for accepting a significant amount of campaign funds from Texas oil companies. They questioned Democratic candidate Sara Gideon’s $2 million in campaign funds. They say some are from other Senator's leadership political action committees.

Most of Gideon's funds were raised through the Massachusetts-based nonprofit campaign fundraising platform PAC, ACTBLUE, according to the FEC website.

Gideon was recently fined by the Maine Ethics Commission for violations connected with two campaign donations she made. She reimbursed herself for those donations using money from a committee that received corporate funds — essentially making a donation in another person’s name.

Kidman said it is hard to have faith in a candidate who does not know campaign laws — though Gideon claims she received bad advice about the 2016 donations.

The 31-year-old Saco resident will not actively seek campaign funds, but instead wants to start a new trend of hosting charity events for the local communities where they hold campaign rallies. They argue that this puts money back into communities rather than taking money from communities and people.

“I think right now we have a system that lets people make decisions based on how loudly they can tell us what they would do,” they said. “Instead of that, I think we need to move to a system where we’re electing people based on what they show us they can do. So, I’m going to try and put my money where my mouth is by doing good things for local agencies.”

Kidman intends to hold events to raise funds in all 16 Maine counties and put the donations right back into that county’s communities.

The Rhode Island native grew up visiting grandparents and other relatives in Maine, and later moved here to attend the University of Maine School of Law. The candidate settled in Saco near their grandmother.

“Maine is more a home to me than anywhere else has ever been and I feel very lucky to be able to build my life, participate in the arts community, and operate my small business here,” Kidman said in an email.

Earning a median Maine income, the candidate considers themself a middle-class worker and figures they earn less than any other Maine candidate for U.S. Senate. They consider themself a part of the working class.

“Everyone wants to say they’re going to be a voice for the working class,” they said. “And I’m here to say ‘We’re perfectly capable of speaking for ourselves — thank you.”

Kidman talked about their ideas for universal health care. They think Medicare for All lacks incentives for doctors who have large student loan debts to stay in the program. One idea to improve the system would be to create provisions that decrease the salaries of hospital administrators and offer student loan relief to doctors, Kidman suggested.

“My main concerns are, right now there’s not a mechanism to keep quality providers in the network,” they said. "I think the most important thing is that we say private insurance and profit motives have no place in our health care system. It’s time for us to create a system that gives equal care to everyone.”

As a criminal defense lawyer, they said they want to work to reform the justice system, but did not go into much detail about how they would change it, instead focusing on other issues.

They believe the Green New Deal is a set of principles that will foster change in the world and U.S. citizens should embrace it because, they said, change is the “American spirit.”

Kidman is one of five Democrats, one Green Party candidate and one independent seeking to challenge Collins next fall.

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