Saturday, March 8, 2014
There's been a fair amount of chatter about which Maine Democrat would take on Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins in 2014. Not a lot of chatter, however, because everyone assumes that Collins is once again indestructible.
But this rumor is interesting: Shenna Bellows, head of the Maine Civil Liberties Union of Maine, is believed to be considering a 2014 bid. Bellows hasn't confirmed this, but she's typically responsive to press inquiries (:::wink, wink, prod, prod::).
Speculation that Bellows would run makes some sense. In 2012 Bellows was one of a gazillion people that briefly considered a bid for the 1st Congressional District when its current occupant, Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, was weighing a run at the U.S. Senate seat held by Olympia Snowe. When Pingree decided to stay in the 1st District, Bellows and every other Democrat pulled out (Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, the majority owner of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and MaineToday Media papers.).
There are a couple of things that make Bellows an intriguing candidate even if she'll have a tough time beating Collins:
1. She's a persuasive advocate for the ACLU of Maine and quick on her feet. Listen to her here debate Republican operative Lance Dutson during the 2011 initiative to restore same-day voter registration.
2. The libertarian wing of the Republican party seems to like her, or more accurately, they like the policies she's helped promote at the State House. Anyone who has followed legislation the last three years will notice that there's been a convergence of Republicans and Democrats on certain policy initiatives. Marijuana legalization, privacy bill, checks on the power of law enforcement. Bellows has been a leading voice for those initiatives and been able to bring along not just libertarian Republicans, but some moderate ones, too.
What does that mean for Collins? We'll see, but it's possible that Bellows' entry could preempt a primary challenge from Collins' right flank -- if that's even a possibility.
A strong showing for Bellows would also bode well for her political future even if she doesn't beat Collins.Tweet
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.