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The Hill: "Dem to Tap into Grassroots in Challenge"

... The former head of the Maine American Civil Liberties Union is one of a line of progressive candidates emerging this cycle who have been dubbed “Elizabeth Warren Democrats” for their willingness to push unabashedly progressive positions that had previously been third-rail issues, like marijuana legalization and single-payer healthcare.

But it’s those issues, Bellows said, that will help her galvanize Democrats come Election Day. “Democrats in Maine are fired up. The base in Maine is more enthusiastic than ever before,” she said.

The state is about a third Democratic and a quarter Republican, with the rest of Maine’s voters registering as independents or another party affiliation. And in 2008, it was the only state with a Republican senator that President Obama carried — and Collins, in fact, outperformed Obama, by about 3 percent of the vote. She’s the only GOP incumbent up for reelection this year in a state Obama’s now won twice. ...

US News and World Report: "National Security Drives Maine Race Against Collins: Meet the U.S. Senate candidate who seems as eager to work with Rand Paul as she is Elizabeth Warren."
... Bellows is campaigning on repeal of the U.S. Patriot Act and wants to severely curb the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program – two issues that resonate with the left wing of the Democratic Party as well as libertarian-minded voters who propped up Ron Paul’s strong showing in the 2012 presidential caucuses there.

“What I think we need is targeting based on individualized suspicion, reasonable suspicion that people are engaged in criminal or terrorist activity,” she says in response to a question about what she thinks the NSA should be able to monitor. ...

Time Magazine Swampland column: "Maine Democrat Tries to Make Marijuana and NSA Wedge Issues"
... Portland, Maine’s largest city, legalized recreational marijuana overwhelmingly last year, but the state legislature has opposed measures to legalize, tax and regulate the drug. It has, however, allowed medical marijuana since 1999. “There is widespread support for more sensible drug-reform policy,” says Bellows, who sells herself as a “daughter of a carpenter,” raised without running water or electricity.

Two marijuana-advocacy groups have endorsed her — the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) — the latter providing the limit, $5,000, to her campaign, according to Dan Riffle, MPP’s director of federal policies. While that isn’t much money in a race that will cost millions, there are other ways in which the groups have aided Bellows, mainly in improving her name recognition.

“When you have a candidate that is willing to come out and support this, they receive lots of media attention, lots of grassroots support, lots of accolades from the public,” says Erik Altieri, NORML’s communications director. “And that really gets noticed by their competitors.” He notes that promarijuana candidates have forced others to change their positions in recent gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania and Maryland. ...

WCSH Portland News 6/ WLBZ News 2: Bellows holds her own against tough questions (with a conservative bias):
...Bellows has never held elective office. She talks about why she feels Mainers should turn out a three-term incumbent in favor of someone untested. Bellows outlines her positions on military spending and the impact on Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

She also discusses privacy rights and NSA data collection, the U.S. role in the current unrest in Ukraine, Obamacare and more. ...

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See also Spud1's post about this interview.

Shenna Bellows for Senate

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