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This diary is not about the latest outrage from the Republicans, or the handicapping of the horse races. This is for those of you (us) on the ground, working with the lifeblood of campaigns: the volunteers.
The folks who are giving up their evenings to phone bank.
Their Saturdays to canvass.

Putting their own lives on hold, if just for a few hours (but sometimes over and over) to help us get our team elected.

As we enter the final stretch in all of these hundreds of campaigns, let's take a couple of minutes for a shout-out to these indispensable individuals.

And let's have some love too for the dedicated, usually-young and always-energetic Field Organizers and interns who are out there rounding them up, putting them to work, patting them on the back, and working tirelessly for the candidates they believe in.

Head to your local HQ this week and thank the volunteers. Better yet, stick around and join them!
That's how we win.

But just as importantly- that's how we play the game.

Share your favorite stories of volunteers and volunteering below!

H/T to the great field team at Bellows for Senate for the video.

Discuss

Let's say you're a Republican incumbent who is sitting on a substantial war chest, and deemed invincible by the Conventional Wisdom pundits before the race had scarcely begun. Yet certain friends keep looking for more ways to give you more money than you can possibly use for your own re-election campaign, especially in your cheap-media state. What do you do?

If you're Susan Collins (R-ME), you quietly collect money for your PAC. You hit up some of your most loyal corporate partners, like General Dynamics and Raytheon. And you welcome help from organizations that appreciate the rosy veneer of bipartisanship you can provide, like the Human Rights Campaign.

Then you quietly dole that money back out to some surprising recipients. The kind of Republicans your supporters back home might not associate with your carefully groomed "moderate" image.

Not-so-moderate Republicans like Mike Enzi. And James Inhofe. And that guy you'll vote for as Majority Leader if, with your help, your party takes over the Senate next year: Mitch McConnell.

Who are these fortunate recipients of Susan Collins' Dirigo PAC? Follow below the fold for a run-down, and some thoughts on why should Maine voters (and progressives everywhere) should care how Susan Collins directs her largesse.

(Spoiler: It's about the hypocrisy.)

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It's Monday night in Sherman, ME and Shenna Bellows (ME-Sen) is two days and 33 miles into the adventure of a lifetime: Walking 350 miles in 21 days, from the northern border town of Houlton to Kittery, at the southwestern corner of Maine. Her feet are holding up and so are her spirits. She's on this trek to listen to the voters who would be her constituents- including those in little towns like Island Falls (pop. 793), where candidates for national office rarely wander by.

Shenna Bellows in Island Falls, Maine.
She's listening to locals like Patrick Hunt:
”It says a lot about her because she’s going to energize poor people, working class people, and people who need protection. She’s not representing Wall Street and the banks, she’s representing working class people by visiting all of them in Maine.”
She's stopping in corner markets and door yards, and hearing from Democrats, unenrolled voters, and Republicans like this guy, a self-described "LePage welfare bum" who says it's time for change in DC.

Houses are far apart in the farmlands of Aroostook County, and cell service is spotty. It's hilly, and it's hot this far from the breezes on Maine's sparkling and more densely populated coast. She's traveling with a well-used but serviceable slide-in camper and a small rotating campaign staff. Supporters are signing up to walk with her a mile or three along the way as she passes through their counties.

Supporters walked with Shenna in New Limerick, ME on Sunday.
Taking three weeks off the traditional campaign circuit to undertake a challenge like this is a risky move. Why is she doing it? Come below the tangerine cloud to hear more.
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Yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Susan Collins (R-ME) over challenger Shenna Bellows, the former ACLU of ME executive director who helped bring marriage equality to Maine. Hours later, Collins finally broke her silence on the subject:

After receiving the endorsement of the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday indicated for the first time her personal support for same-sex marriage.

“A number of states, including my home state of Maine, have now legalized same-sex marriage, and I agree with that decision,” Collins said in response to a question from the BDN.

The timing of Collin's announcement can't be coincidental.
But let's review a few opportunities on which Collins took a pass.

When Shenna Bellows was organizing "Republicans for Marriage Equality" in 2012 as part of her leadership role in Maine's marriage referendum, she invited Susan Collins to join. Collins refused.

When Maine voters affirmed the right to marry for LGBTQ Mainers, supporters across the country celebrated. Collins could have taken the opportunity to make the statement she made today, nearly two years later. She stayed silent.

And when the Maine GOP held its 2014 convention a few weeks ago, voting once more to define marriage as "the union of one man and one woman," Collins could have shown leadership within her own party in her own state by voicing a more inclusive position. She did not.

Bellows responded to the statement from Collins:

“I believe in taking strong stances in favor of Constitutional protections and equal rights even when they’re unpopular,” Bellows said. “Remaining silent on some of the biggest civil rights issues of our generation, even after the voters have spoken, isn’t leadership, and it isn’t how Maine became one of the most inclusive states in the country for LGBT rights”
Why did Collins wait so long to make this statement?
As I commented on Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees's diary about the HRC endorsement yesterday,
Earlier in this race one Maine reporter coined the phrase "the Shenna effect" to wonder about Collins' shifting of positions on minimum wage and NSA transparency. Though as with those issues, this movement on marriage equality is a half-measure. But it's a measure of the critical role Bellows is playing, even as an underdog.
And let's not forget, Collins still insists marriage equality is a state's rights issue, so she's unlikely to push for full equality at the national level.

I'll let Shenna Bellows have the last word:

"My opponent, Republican Susan Collins, had the chance to speak up in favor of marriage equality in 2012 or any time in the previous decade. Two years after her constituents made their feelings known at the ballot box, she has refused to break her silence. I believe Mainers need, want and deserve more proactive representation on equal rights -- on allowing LGBT students to learn without fear of bullying, on applying for jobs and going to work without fear of discrimination, and on much more. I'm running for Senate to provide that proactive representation and to expand Constitutional protections for our LGBT community."
You can support real leadership on LGBT issues by donating to Shenna's campaign at this Act Blue page.
Discuss
Bellows announces the "Walk with ME for Jobs and the Economy" at Lamey-Wellehan Shoes in Augusta, 6/6/14.
How does a grassroots Senate candidate challenging an incumbent with two decades in the Beltway reach out to voters to make the case for change? If you're Shenna Bellows, you do it on their home turf.
Shenna Bellows is ready for some shoe leather politicking.

The Democrat who wants to unseat Republican Sen. Susan Collins is holding a news conference Friday to talk about her plans to walk across Maine. She plans to visit 63 locales as she walks 350 miles.

Bellows says she intends to be a voice for the working class and her trek is being dubbed "Walk with Maine for Jobs and the Economy.''

Maine is a big state, no matter how you measure it. The Bellows campaign has chosen a mostly interior route for most of the walk, taking her from the northeastern border to the familiar southwestern entry point for visitors to Maine.
Shenna Bellows announced her "Walk With Maine for Jobs and the Economy" at a June 6 Augusta press conference, backed by supporters and local business leaders. On July 20, she'll start walking 350 miles -- from Houlton to Kittery -- to bring politics and campaigning back to the local level where it belongs.
This will be a challenging endeavor. Walking up to 20 miles a day, Bellows will start her journey traveling through the very rural areas of northern Maine. Houlton, ME is 100 miles from the nearest Starbucks. And it's 785 miles and a world away from K Street, where her opponent, Republican Susan Collins, has come to feel quite at home.

If you're a Maine resident, a "Mainer in Exile", or just love grassroots politics done well, follow us below the fold for more pix and info on Shenna's walk!

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Mike Michaud (ME- Gov) and Shenna Bellows (ME- Sen) at a York County Democratic Committee event.
Mike Michaud (ME-Gov) and Shenna Bellows (ME-Sen), the Maine Dems Dream Team 2014!
Maine Democrats are energized this year. With no primary challenges, we're united behind current CD2 Congressman Mike Michaud for Governor, and can't wait for him to show the current occupant of the Blaine House to the door (or all the way to the airport for a one-way flight to Florida.)  And our U.S. Senate candidate, Shenna Bellows, is making waves around the state and beyond with an inspiring grassroots campaign against the last Republican senator in New England.

Michaud, a former paper mill worker from Millinocket, came up through the Maine Legislature to lead the Maine Senate. Since 2003 he's represented Maine's CD2. Support in this largely rural, more conservative part of the state is essential for winning any statewide race, and Mike has never lost an election. Mike made national news last fall when he came out as gay. We look forward to electing him as the first openly gay Governor in the nation.

Bellows also has roots in northern Maine, coming from coastal Hancock in CD2. The daughter of carpenter and a nurse, she grew up without electricity or running water until fifth grade. Following an economics degree and a stint in the Peace Corps, she joined the national ACLU, and served as Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine for 8 years.

These two are both terrific on the stump- on point, positive and progressive, charming and approachable. And it only gets better when they're together, as they have been several times recently in stops around Maine. Follow along as we catch up with them in Downeast Maine this past week. Pix and video below the orange squiggle!

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Shenna Bellows with NOW ralliers at the Supreme Court
If you've been following the campaign of progressive challenger Shenna Bellows (ME-Sen), you know she's been running an ambitious schedule of house parties and events from Kittery to Presque Isle, criss-crossing the state's 16 counties and 504 towns constantly since last October.

Today, though, she's on her opponent's home turf. Inside the beltway, that is, where Collins has spent the past 18 years.

During that time, Collins has had a mixed record on reproductive rights. While she's been better than most of her caucus, she voted to confirm two of the conservative justices that will be weighing the Hobby Lobby case. And she voted to advance the Blunt amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny women access to birth control.

Bellows released a statement about the Hobby Lobby case yesterday:

“You can’t be pro-choice and vote to limit access to birth control,” said Bellows. “Decisions about birth control should be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor, not the government and certainly not her boss. It is wrong to allow employers to interfere with women’s decisions about family planning.”
The former Executive Director of the ACLU of Maine, Bellows has been a leader on reproductive rights.
The lawsuits highlight an important policy difference between Bellows and her opponent, Republican incumbent Susan Collins. Bellows has been a long-time advocate for women’s health and reproductive freedom as a leader in the Maine Choice Coalition. Bellows was a key member of the Maine Choice Coalition lobby team, which defeated several anti-contraception and anti-abortion measures over the last eight years.
...
Bellows has been endorsed by Feminist Majority PAC and the National Organization for Women’s NOW PAC. Bellows has received numerous awards for her work on women’s health and reproductive freedom from groups including University of Maine Women’s Studies Department, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, the American Association of University Women, and the Frances Perkins Center.
Today, Shenna is proud to stand with the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and in solidarity with the two-thirds of women voters who oppose allowing corporations like Hobby Lobby to make contraceptive decisions for their employees.
Shenna Bellows with NARAL PAC founder Karen Mulhauser at the Supreme Court, 3/25/14.
And where does Susan Collins stand on this landmark case?
If you have any clues, please share in the comments. As with most controversial issues, she's made no clear statement of her position.
Shenna Bellows has the Courage to Lead.
Discuss

Susan Collins' campaign team has been quiet for the past few weeks since Shenna Bellows put out her eyebrow-raising 4th Quarter fundraising report. Now we know why: Bellows outpaced Collins for the period.

Collins reported raising $314,921 during the last quarter of 2013. After expenses, the Collins campaign had slightly more than $3 million in cash still available as she seeks a fourth six-year term in the U.S. Senate, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

Democrat Shenna Bellows reported raising $332,241 between late October when she officially joined the race, and Dec. 31.

The Collins camp waited till the last minute to file this report- conveniently on a Friday night. And they are highlighting her $3M war chest, of course. The one she's been building since 2006, with all those lunches with lobbyists at Capital Hill townhouses. The one designed to scare away challenges from either flank.

Shenna Bellows isn't easily intimidated.

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In recognition of the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, ME-Sen candidate Shenna Bellows had this to say:

“Decisions about medical care including abortion and contraception should be made by a woman and her doctor, not her boss and not the government,” said Bellows.  “A key difference between my opponent and I is that I would not have voted for the Blunt Amendment to allow employers to block access for their employees to birth control or any other health care service.  We need strong leaders in Washington who will stand up for women’s health."
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ThinkProgress has an interview up with ME-Sen candidate Shenna Bellows, discussing her open support for marijuana legalization.

Bellows explained that she envisions herself as a Senate leader on marijuana reform.
“Right now on the Senate side, there doesn’t seem to be a leader who has the courage to move that forward,” Bellows said. “I would be that leader.”
Shenna Bellows, ME-Sen candidate.
Bellows is no newcomer to the reform movement. As Executive Director of the ACLU Maine, she coordinated with the Marijuana Policy Project to help win Portland, Maine's local referendum to legalize recreational use of marijuana last fall.

Even so, this is a bold move for a US Senate candidate. As the ThinkProgress story notes,

"[N]o senator seems to have explicitly supported federal marijuana legalization, although some including Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Booker have at least spoken out against the current prohibition regime. Although several marijuana reform bills have been proposed in the House, none have been proposed in the Senate."
Given such a cautious attitude in the Senate, why would a candidate choose to make marijuana legalization a campaign issue?
Poll

Shenna Bellows….

68%51 votes
28%21 votes
4%3 votes

| 75 votes | Vote | Results

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The strange sensation in Maine this morning wasn't the reversal of the earth's magnetic field, but something less predictable: A tremor in Maine's electoral landscape, as the 4thQ fundraising report from the Bellows for Senate campaign hit the press, raising eyebrows from Kittery to Eastport.

Shenna Bellows, the Democratic candidate attempting to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, has only been fundraising for a few months, but her campaign will soon be touting more than $332,000 in donations.
The total is only one reason Maine Democrats are excited about this news. The details of the fundraising results are as tasty as this orange croissant…..
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Shenna Bellows (ME-Sen) has just released her first campaign video. It's a terrific introduction to the impressive young woman who is challenging Susan Collins.

Take a couple of minutes to meet Shenna. Then follow us below the fold for more about her race, and vote in our poll!

Poll

I want to hear more from Shenna Bellows about...

25%2 votes
0%0 votes
12%1 votes
12%1 votes
12%1 votes
0%0 votes
12%1 votes
12%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
12%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 8 votes | Vote | Results

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