3 Democrats appear together for last time before primary

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — One of three Democratic candidates vying to try to unseat Republican Sen. Susan Collins sought to use the front-runner's prolific fundraising against her during their final gathering on Monday ahead of next week's primary.

Attorney Bre Kidman of Saco asked House Speaker Sara Gideon “why are you lying to Maine voters” about getting money out of politics while raising money at a furious pace and spending heavily on advertising.

“At this point in our country, we all agree that we need the best representation that can’t be bought," Kidman said minutes later.

Gideon, who raised more than $8 million in the latest reporting period, brushed aside the question from Kidman, saying her record shows she's not afraid to stand up to corporate or special interests like the pharmaceutical industry, health insurance companies or energy companies.

She noted that she's not accepting corporate political action committee donations and shut down Kidman's past complaints that she accepted corporate PAC that was “laundered” through other PACs by saying “any talking points to the contrary are the ones that the national Republican Party and Senator Collins herself continue to put out.”

Kidman, Gideon and activist Betsy Sweet participated in the virtual event hosted by Maine Public, their final time together before the state's primary election on July 14. The debate was held Monday afternoon and then aired Monday evening on Maine Public.

Sweet and Kidman have struggled to gain traction against Gideon who became the establishment candidate when the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed her about a year ago.

The discussion was mostly cordial as the candidates touched on climate change, racial unrest, the lobster industry, student debt, conservative judges, and Israel and the Palestinians.

Gideon continues to outpace Collins in fundraising – reporting $23 million in contributions versus $16.3 million for Collins. Neither Sweet nor Kidman have tried to compete in fundraising.