SHENNA BELLOWS is shown with her grandfather Bill Bellows at The Highlands in Topsham.

SHENNA BELLOWS is shown with her grandfather Bill Bellows at The Highlands in Topsham.

TOPSHAM

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows appeared Friday at The Highlands to speak to residents on the third day of her formal candidacy.

Bellows’ grandfather, Bill Bellows, is a resident of the retirement community.

Shenna Bellows was director of the Maine ACLU before stepping down to run for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins — Maine’s senior senator.

She said she is looking forward to as many debates and forums as can be scheduled with Collins.

“I am looking forward to a full and fair debate on our policy differences,” she said.

Bellows, a Hancock native, lives in Manchester and is currently running unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

She said that at this point in her campaign, she is introducing herself and explaining some of her background.

“Carpenters’ daughters rarely run for Congress,” she said. “That’s why we have a Congress full of millionaires instead of average Americans.”

Bellows’ mother also worked, at a local hospital.

Bellows recently married her longtime fiancé.

“We had decided to get married only when our gay and lesbian friends were also able to wed,” she said.

Part of the challenge for Bellows will be financing.

“I don’t have a huge war chest right now,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of grassroots support,” as she was briefly interrupted by a supporter offering her a check for $25, “and just in the last two weeks we’ve raised $100,000 in cash and pledges.”

Bellows has one paid staffer but a large, statewide network of volunteers who have organized nearly every one of her events so far. She’s been meeting with the Maine Democratic Party and county Democratic organizations, too, to shore up support.

She said her goal is to visit every county in Maine by the end of her first week, and every town by the end of the campaign.

“This will be a very different kind of campaign,” she said. “I want your input and your ideas,” she told the assembled group.

Bellows has had support the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, who have strongly held beliefs in constitutional government.

“One of my major concerns is that our constitutional freedoms are being lost,” she said. “When I was at the ACLU, I was passionate about power coalitions. I’d be debating the Catholic Church and the Christian Coalition on the issue of choice or freedom to marry in the morning, and stand with them on the issues of racial justice and privacy in the afternoon.”

She said at the ACLU, everyone knew that they wouldn’t have permanent friends or enemies.

Bellows said the campaign finance system is “a threat to democracy.” But she believes there are other threats: Her priorities would include a repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act, ending National Security Administration surveillance on U.S. citizens and world leaders, and limiting the activities of drones.

She is also concerned about the attack on voting rights, and said she is strongly focused on constitutional protections, especially the First and Fourth amendments.

On the sequester and government shutdown, Bellows said the action was “unforgivabl

“We had the image of politicians congratulating themselves for doing their jobs. In the meantime, the shutdown cost billions. And then they were proud of themselves for reopening government. Sorry, it was three weeks too late.”

Bellows will be back in the area Tuesday night, appearing at Bowdoin College with free public event in Moulton Union, 7 to 8 p.m.


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