John Nichols at The Nation writes:
The woman who could be the future of progressive politics in America is sitting at the back table of an Indian restaurant in Portland, Maine. It’s early evening, she’s got a list of names, and she’s wearing out her cellphone. US Senate candidate Shenna Bellows doesn’t do downtime. While she waits for a meeting, the upstart Democrat makes the calls she says will upset an entrenched Republican incumbent. These aren’t the kinds of calls most candidates make: to big donors in distant cities with agendas even more distant from the concerns of the people she hopes to represent. Bellows is calling the people: nurses and teachers, lobster-boat captains and farmers, students and union activists. And she’s asking them to counter not just big money but a broken politics that values party labels and personalities more than ideals and movements.
When Maine Republicans eliminated same-day voter registration, she co-chaired the 2011 Protect Maine Votes coalition, which put it on the ballot and secured a landslide vote to restore it. A year later, with Mainers United for Marriage, she helped organize the referendum campaign that overturned a 2009 ban on same-sex marriage.
“No one thought we could win. Outside political observers said, ‘It’s too soon—you just lost in 2009,’” Bellows recalls. “We said, ‘We know we have the right message, we’re on the right side of history, and we have a highly organized field plan to win.’ And we did. This is a very similar campaign. It’s a David and Goliath race, but we know we have the right message. Most Mainers think we should raise the minimum wage. Most Mainers are concerned about climate change. Most Mainers think we should restore civil liberties.”
Bellows reminds me of a former farm organizer who ran an impossible campaign for a Minnesota Senate seat in 1990. When I mention this, Bellows doesn’t miss a beat. “Yes,” she says. “And Paul Wellstone won.”