‘I Mostly Listen’: Offering Blueprint for Democrats, Green New Deal Champion Chloe Maxmin Unseats Powerful GOP Incumbent in Rural Maine
“I don’t show up and talk about myself,” says Maxmin, who this week unseated the state’s Republican Senate Minority Leader. “I really try and listen and make sure that the voices that I hear are reflected in our campaign.”
photo above: Maine state Rep. Chloe Maxmin, who won a state Senate seat Tuesday night after running against state Sen. Minority Leader Dana Dow, speaks to a voter on the campaign trail. (Image: Chloe Maxmin)
WN: Excerpts from the article highlighted below point to great hopefulness in America! The story is also hugely encouraging and heartwarming! She has my (overwhelming!–alas Canadian) vote! 🙂
Below is the delightful video about Chloe Maxmin and her campaign manager Canyon Woodward! Understatement and a great metaphor used in the film work brilliantly!
The results of the U.S. Senate race this week in Maine—won by four-term Republican Sen. Susan Collins after Democrats poured $50 million into challenger Sara Gideon’s campaign—may have given the impression that a Trumpian right-wing agenda has an iron grip on the state’s more conservative rural voters, but the victory of Democratic state Rep. Chloe Maxmin, a progressive champion who ran on the promise of a Green New Deal and offering a “politics as public service” in a strong GOP district, tells a much different story.
Two years after winning a seat in the state House of Representatives, representing conservative, rural District 88, Maxmin secured a win in her challenge to state Senate Republican Leader Dana Dow. As in her first campaign for elected office, Maxmin won over voters in state Senate District 13—where residents chose Collins over Gideon—by engaging deeply with her community and offering a platform focused on climate action, investing in universal broadband access, and treating healthcare as a human right.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, the Maxmin campaign further stepped up its commitment to engaging directly with voters, enlisting 200 volunteers to check on voters’ wellbeing.
“Maxmin called upon her volunteers to reach out to every senior in her district and her network of campaign volunteers provided food, assistance with prescription drugs and identified transpiration needs,” Marie Follayttar, director of the progressive grassroots group Mainers for Accountable Leadership, told Common Dreams. “Chloe is both a community organizer and an elected official. Not only is Chloe willing to listen to the people where they are—at their dinner table or at their door—she is demonstrably responsive to their needs and leverages the organizing structure of her campaign to assist her in accomplishing mutual aid work.”
Other Democratic campaigns in the state, Follayttar noted, “could have done this as well. We transform lives by being present in them and building community to support one another. We move into legislative action by turning the concerns heard at the door into legislation.”
Maxmin, who introduced the state’s Green New Deal in 2019, with the notable backing of the state AFL-CIO, and co-founded the fossil fuel divestment campaign Divest Harvard while in college, won applause from national climate action campaigners at 350.org and Friends of the Earth.
Maxmin’s tactic of engaging authentically with voters in reminiscent of “deep canvassing,” a method of campaigning used by the national grassroots network People’s Action and found to be 102 times more effective at winning over undecided voters than a typical brief interaction during a door-knocking or phone-banking campaign.
“Deep canvassing differs from traditional campaign tactics because it relies on soul,” People’s Action Director George Goehl told Common Dreams. “In a deep canvass conversation, you break down your walls and the canvasser and voter really connect with one another. This is the kind of organizing that changes hearts and minds.”
Maxmin told Common Dreams that her campaign led her to “thousands” of similar interactions.
“I had thousands of conversations with people,” she said. “And it’s so interesting when you have that kind of breadth to your exposure of humanity, just the themes that you hear. And it was really, really consistent—rarely hearing direct issues, mostly hearing about how people are so frustrated with everyone and everything on both sides and just hating the negative campaigning.”
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