“That’s the single essential component of addressing any seriously contagious pandemic,” Hickenlooper said.
His conflicting impulses revealed an inner struggle for all of the challengers trying to wrest the Senate from Republicans: how to campaign during a crisis.
The forceful response has again shown the power of incumbency. Senate Republicans in tough races across the country are noting to the dollar how much aid they’ve brought home, while Democratic challengers try to attack their opponents while aiming to unify the country during a terrible time.
Still, the Democrats had an urge to soften any blow against the President.
After criticizing the Trump administration’s coordination of the supply chain with state governments, Gideon told CNN, “I try not to think about how we throw stones in there, but we acknowledge where the deficiencies and leadership are so that we can come together and overcome them.”
Meanwhile, many Republican senators are running on the billions they’ve sent to their states.
In Maine, Majority Forward, an outside group affiliated with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, released an ad saying, “Once again, Susan Collins defends the President” despite a lack of PPE.
Collins campaign spokesman Kevin Kelley responded this week, saying 600,000 pieces were sent to Maine — according to the head of the state’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — enough to fill six tractor trailers with items like N95 masks, surgical masks, face shields and gloves. The senator’s campaign is up with a response ad, highlighting that Collins helped secure over $2 billion for loans to Maine small businesses in the recent legislation. “So while they spend millions on lies, Susan keeps working for Maine,” the ad’s narrator says.
In response to the aid appropriated for Maine, Gideon told CNN that she’s “glad to see some of the things that they have done.”
“I know Senator Collins is trying very hard to lift those things up and take credit for them but we are going to continue to point out what else needs to be done and to also contrast the work that is being done there in the US Senate with the ways we have met people’s needs here in the state of Maine and under my leadership in the legislature as well,” she added.
What’s happening in Maine is happening in the other races crucial to Senate control.
Some Democrats maintain that the pandemic has only reinforced their health care-first campaign focus.
“It just magnifies the issues that we were already talking about — some basic health care should be a right not a privilege,” said Hickenlooper, who briefly ran for his party’s presidential nomination last year.
Cunningham told CNN that he’s hearing “an awful lot about the need for us to close very real gaps in medical coverage” in part because Tillis, as state House speaker, did not help North Carolina expand Medicaid. (Tillis’ campaign did not respond to a CNN request for comment.)
Cunningham also nodded to the purple nature of his state, which Trump carried in 2016, saying that even before the pandemic, he pledged to work with whoever the next president is — Trump or former vice president Joe Biden — and hold them accountable.
“My job is going to be to give voice to North Carolina,” he said.