Pivoting off Gerald's strong points, a few final thoughts on Human Rights Campaign's endorsement of Sen. Collins.
As I said from the start, HRC had its reasons for endorsing Sen. Collins. But it's worth mentioning that the purely political case for the endorsement is exceedingly, almost laughably weak.
Consider: Just about everyone--including Republicans--believes that Democrats will gain seats in both chambers in November. And the smart money believes that the GOP's chances of regaining control of Congress before 2012 are slim to none.
Meanwhile, Sen. Collins has already come out in favor of ENDA and against a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
So unless HRC thinks Collins' positions are contingent on their endorsement--unless they think they've essentially bought her cooperation--the Maine Senate race represents an opportunity to replace a lukewarm (but reliable) supporter from the minority party with a solid ally from the party in power. In other words, someone in a position to actually advance HRC's goals.
Now it's true that most Democrats in the Senate already respect HRC's agenda. But it's also true that there will be many competing priorities for Democrats to tackle over the next couple years. And when it comes to public support, expanding protections for gays and lesbians isn't exactly high on the list.
Given this landscape, HRC's willingness to signal to its most stalwart supporters that the organization doesn't have their backs--and that HRC won't even refrain from endorsing their challengers--seems beyond boneheaded. It seems like a huge strategic miscalculation.
But at a minimum, it's a questionable way for the organization to persuade wobbly pols to champion its issues.
UPDATE: Poor word choice: I didn't meant to suggest that protections for gays and lesbians are unpopular. (Which I'm pretty sure isn't the case). What I meant, instead, is that such protections are not a top priority for most Americans.