Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows released her first television ad of the campaign today after officially becoming the party’s nominee in Tuesday‘s uncontested primary. The spot, which you can view at http://www.bellowsforsenate.com/pressroom, highlights her working class upbringing and her hard work to pay for college. “This campaign is about who can best stand up for working Mainers and who understands their lives,” Bellows said in releasing the ad, which will be seen on televisions across Maine this evening and for the next several weeks. “My mother is a nurse, and I’ve seen the need for universal healthcare. My father is a carpenter, and I know how much help small businesses need in this economy. I waited tables and worked retail to pay for college, and I know how much our young people need relief from excessive student debt. I am running for U.S. Senate because working Mainers deserve a strong working class voice on these issues, and many others, in Washington.” The ad was produced by CD2, a Maine-based media firm that produced ads for the successful marriage equality referendum campaign in 2012 and the 2011 same-day voter registration campaign. Bellows was a leader in both efforts as head of the ACLU of Maine. “From the start of this campaign, we’ve seen that people who know Shenna are excited by her values and her leadership,” said Bellows for Senate campaign manager Katie Mae Simpson. “This early ad is the perfect way to introduce Maine voters to Shenna Bellows, a carpenter’s daughter who will always stand up for working class values.” The ad gives a stylistic nod to Paul Wellstone’s famous “Fast Paul” ad and offers a very personal introduction to Bellows, her family and her roots. The ad also highlights Bellows’ impressive grassroots fundraising ability, which has raised more than $1 million largely from small donations and without any corporate PAC money. “Our campaign is building grassroots excitement all across Maine, and this ad is the next step in reaching out to the Mainers who don’t know me yet,” Bellows said. “This election is about the future of Maine and our country, and I look forward to having that conversation statewide.” The ad will run in the Bangor, Portland and Presque Isle markets. Bellows is walking from Houlton to Kittery next month.
U.S. Democratic Senate candidate Shenna Bellows announced today that on July 20, she will begin her 350-mile ‘Walk With Maine for Jobs and the Economy’ to connect with voters around the state who feel left out by big-money politics. Bellows will walk from Houlton in Aroostook County to the town of Kittery in York County, meeting and walking with local voters along a route that will take her to a planned 63 locales.
She will speak with voters over the course of the Walk With Maine to hear their stories and bring democracy back to the local level. After her August 12 arrival in Kittery, the three-and-a-half-week journey will wrap up with a Rally to Rebuild Maine in Portland.
Voters and supporters will be walking with her for portions of the journey all along the route. “We’ll be joined by Mainers from all walks of life,” Bellows said at the press conference. “We’re hoping to walk with them for a mile or five miles to hear their stories and see their main streets all over the state.”
Bellows made the announcement at Lamey-Wellehan Shoes in Augusta at a 10:00 a.m. press conference with business leaders and supporters, where she highlighted the importance of local connections as one of her central campaign themes.
“I’m proud to revive an important Maine tradition of a walk across the state because our politics should be about listening to the voices of ordinary people again,” Bellows said at the event. “Too many politicians aren’t really concerned about listening to voters. I’m excited to hear people’s concerns and be a voice for those concerns in Washington.”
Jim Wellehan, the owner of Lamey-Wellehan Shoes, spoke at the event about the importance of Congress taking families’ concerns seriously again.
“One in five kids in Maine grows up in poverty and food insecurity, and that’s not the country I grew up in,” Wellehan said. “That’s why I’m working with Shenna Bellows.”
Caroline Kurrus of Artforms and Cool as a Moose spoke about why her company is raising pay for its employees. “I’m proud that we’ve recently raised our minimum wage to ten dollars and ten cents an hour. We did this out of a sense of responsibility to our employees, and we encourage Maine businesses to do the same. We stand with Shenna in putting our values into practice, and we stand with her in the Walk With Maine.”
Wick Johnson, the head of Kennebec Technologies, spoke about why he’s supporting Shenna both as a business leader and as an everyday voter: “I’m here today as a resident of Augusta as much as a business owner. I find it disturbing that two thirds of Augusta students are on free or reduced lunches. I think it’s terrific that Shenna’s going to walk across Maine to give voters a commitment and a voice.”
“We’re walking to restore power to the people,” Bellows said today. “Grassroots action still matters.”
Throughout her campaign, Bellows has emphasized her working class background and her focus on grassroots democracy. The Walk With Maine provides voters all over the state a chance to meet with her personally, share their experiences, and hear how she’ll make Congress listen to local needs again.
Bellows frequently hears on the campaign trail that Congress has lost touch with the public, and the numbers bear it out. Earlier this year the Center for Responsive Politics revealed that for the first time in history, more than half the members of Congress are millionaires.1
Talking Points Memo reported April 18 in an article headlined “Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy”2:
A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.
Asking “[w]ho really rules?” researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.
Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.
Highlights of her scheduled walk include the following dates:
Houlton – July 20
Grindstone – July 23
Milford – July 27
Unity – July 30
Augusta – August 2
Lewiston/Auburn – August 4
Otisfield – August 6
Waterboro – August 9
Kittery – August 12
Congratuations to our Sag Dems County Chair Bronwen Tudor on winning the prestigious Sam Shapiro Award at this year’s State Dems Convention. The award is presented bienially by the Maine Democratic State Committee to: “The Maine Democrat whose dedication and efforts on behalf of the Party best exemplify the spirit and devotion of Sam Shapiro,” a past Treasurer of the State of Maine who gave decades of service to the Democratic Party. This award honors Sam’s tireless efforts to promoted the principles of the Democratic Party.
Well done, and well deserved Bronwen!
It was standing room only at the gala grand opening of our 2014 Campaign Office in Bath, highlighted by guest of honor Congressman Mike Michaud and our local candidates. Mike gave the keynote address at the rally and visited with volunteers, supporters and guests for the duration of the 2-hour event, held Friday, May 16th. Also on hand were local officials Senator Eloise Vitelli, Sag County Sheriff Joel Merry, State Rep Jennifer DeChant (Bath) and candidates Alice Elliott (HD 55) and David Sinclair (DA). We also met and mingled with our new staffers: Cara Scozzafava and Deena Metzler from the Coordinated Campaign and April Thibodeau from the House Caucus. Office hours, phone number and directions are posted on the Contact Page, and you can see a bunch of photos on the Gallery Page both of which are at the top of this site.
Shenna Bellows has been officially endorsed by the Students for a New American Politics (SNAP) PAC in the race for US Senate in Maine.
The SNAP endorsement provides the Bellows campaign with two full-time summer organizing Fellows to assist in the work of amplifying Bellows’ message and connecting directly with voters about what’s at stake in this race.
“I am honored to be endorsed by SNAP and to have the support of two of their full-time student fellows this summer. Our campaign is truly fueled by the grassroots, and these fellows will provide invaluable organizing skills and energy to our campaign,” Bellows said. “The SNAP endorsement is an investment in the power of grassroots campaigning, and we are looking forward to working closely with them on this race.”
Students for a New American Politics (SNAP) is the nation’s largest student-run political action committee. Founded in 2005, SNAP has raised over $200,000 to support progressive candidates for Congress around the country, while training the next generation of progressive organizers through the SNAP Fellowship program.
“We’re very excited for our Fellows to work on this campaign,” said Zac Krislov, SNAP co-executive director. “Bellows truly values grassroots organizing and connecting with voters, and she is committed to advancing the progressive cause.”
Bellows, the Democratic candidate for Senate running against Republican Susan Collins, has also been endorsed by EMILY’S List and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. For more information on SNAP PAC, please visit http://www.snappac.org. To learn more about Shenna Bellows, visit http://bellowsforsenate.com/.
Democratic Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic has a 100% voting record for the second session of the 126th Legislature. She is one of 12 Democratic senators to receive a perfect attendance score, meaning she voted on, or was excused from, all roll call votes.
“I am honored to represent the people of Sagadahoc County and the town of Dresden – the very least I can do is show up,” said Senator Vitelli. “I am even prouder of the votes I took to invest in our economy, increase access to pre-K, and pave the way for solar energy in the State of Maine.”
During the second session, the Senate voted for two bipartisan supplemental budgets to pay the state’s bills, restore Governor LePage’s proposed cuts to education, and reduce and eliminate the wait lists for people with severe disabilities to get critical home-based care services.
The Legislature also approved measures to increase access to pre-Kindergarten programs, create a road map for solar energy in Maine, restore critical revenue sharing funds to Maine’s cities and towns, and create jobs and invest in Maine’s small business economy through $50 million in bonds.
The 126th Legislature adjourned May 2, concluding its work for the year.
Gov. Paul LePage has formally withdrawn a proposal to add the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde to the priority chemicals list under the state law protecting children from toxic chemicals.
As part of the Kids Safe Products Act, the rule would have required manufacturers to disclose which children’s products contain formaldehyde, a widely used toxic chemical known to cause leukemia and other cancers in humans.
“Formaldehyde is cancer causing chemical,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick, who has three young children. “Maine families have right to know if this dangerous chemical is in their children’s products. I know I join the many parents in this state who will be dismayed by this harmful choice.”
Citing the need to wait for a federal government review, LePage’s action followed the lobbying pleas of major formaldehyde producers, including Koch Industries, the industrial conglomerate owned by David and Charles Koch. Koch Industries is a co-founder and major funder of the Formaldehyde Panel of the chemical industry lobby, American Chemistry Council (ACC). In January 2014, the ACC Formaldehyde Panel also testified in opposition to Maine’s proposed listing of formaldehyde as a Priority Chemical during a hearing on the proposal.
“Maine families deserve to know if toxic chemicals are in the products their kids use,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan, a father of two young children. “How can the governor justify exposing children to the carcinogen formaldehyde? In what world do we choose the bottom line of chemical companies over the health of Maine’s children? It seems to be the world the governor would have us live in, given his track record of failing to protect kids from BPA and his latest move.”
Governor LePage has prioritized the chemical industry over Maine kids. He vetoed legislation put forward last year by former Senator Seth Goodall of Richmond that would require billion-dollar food companies to disclose which canned foods contained BPA; his veto was sustained. Governor LePage also opposed a rule initiated by a citizen petition in 2012 to eliminate BPA from baby food packaging—the rule became law without his signature
In 2011, he tried and failed to repeal the ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, infamously saying the worst that could happen is that women would grow “little beards.”
After working for more than five and half hours on Governor LePage’s 11th hour bill gimmicks, Governor LePage notified the Legislature he will veto the work done on his behalf.
“It should be no surprise that Governor LePage to the very end would obstruct the hard work done in the Legislature,” said Senate President Justin Alfond of Portland. “Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle tried to make this happen. We tried to do this but no matter what good ideas were brought forward, the governor refused to compromise. It’s unfortunate that the governor did not take his job seriously enough to work with us. ”
Top lawmakers from both parties pulled the plug on further negotiations on both the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency bill LD 1811 and the nursing home bill LD 1864 after learning the news.
“For the past 24 hours the budget panel has worked to accommodate the Governor’s eleventh hour proposals,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Once Democrats and Republicans found a compromise on the bill to address the drug crisis and agreed to fund nursing homes, the Governor couldn’t take ‘yes’ for an answer. At midnight on the final hour of veto day, we have all grown tired of his my-way-or the highway approach. Republicans and Democrats agreed to not move forward with bills he would veto.”
The Legislature adjourned sine die after overriding 14 of the governor’s 48 vetoes today (summary here). The 126th Legislature has completed its work and will not return.
Maine will be the first state in the nation to support foster children with higher education through the age of 26.
LD 1683, Resolve, To Improve Degree and Career Attainment for Former Foster Children, was signed by Gov. Paul LePage on Monday. The measure becomes law 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.
Sponsored by House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, the measure allows former foster children to receive guidance and financial help with higher education expenses averaging $5,000 a year until their 27th birthdays. At present, Maine provides no support or guidance beyond age 20. The bill leverages one private foundation dollar for every two public dollars and would support up to 40 young Mainers at a given time.
“I’m proud that Maine is leading on this issue. Helping these young Mainers complete their education makes sense, both morally and economically,” Berry said. “Even with the best of childhoods, how many of us were fully independent at age 20? How many of us would cut off our own kids once they turn 20?”
Youth in care often have multiple foster care placements that contribute to gaps in their educations. It is not unusual for youth in care to start college after age 18, and only 2 percent to on to receive a four-year degree.
Private foundations convened by the Muskie School for Public Services will fund the entire cost of guidance, or one-third of the total projected costs.
Young people transitioning out of foster care are at significantly higher risk of unemployment, homelessness, poor educational outcomes and long-term dependency on public assistance. A University of Chicago study finds that between 12 and 36 percent of young people transitioning out of foster care experience homelessness.
Maine uses a mix of state and federal funds to support youth in care with their educational, vocational and other needs. To receive this support, a youth in care must sign what is called a V-9 agreement for an extension of state guardianship. These young adults must be enrolled in school, job training, working at least 80 hours a month, or have specific special health needs.
The bill was passed at a time when higher educational attainment and affordability is an increasingly important focus for business, education and other community leaders.
The Maine State Chamber of Commerce and Jobs for Maine’s Graduates were among those who testified in support of the bill, citing the need for a well-educated and prepared workforce.
A recent Pew Research Center report finds that the earnings gap between those with college degrees and those without is growing. Millennial college graduates between the ages of 25 and 32 make an average of $17,500 more than their peers who have only a high school diploma. They are also more likely to be employed full-time and less likely to be unemployed.
A solar energy development bill sponsored by our own Democratic Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic has become law.
“For a decade lawmakers have worked together in a bipartisan manner to move Maine’s energy policy forward, and we continue to do so with this law,” said Democratic Senator Eloise VItelli of Arrowsic, the sponsor of the bill.
Maine is the only state in New England without a solar incentive program. Senator Vitelli’s law directs the Maine Public Utilities Commission to take specific measures regarding solar energy, including monitoring and studying the development and value of distributed solar energy generation on ratepayers.
“Maine is one of the most oil-dependent states in the country. This law will give the people in our state an opportunity to do something about that,” Senator Vitelli added. “It is one step toward getting Maine on track with the rest of the nation in developing plentiful and cost-effective energy for all customers.”
Maine spends $5 billion per year importing fossil fuels andis the most petroleum-dependent state for home heating, with more than 70% of households using it as their primary heating source. According to a 2010 report, rooftop solar panels alone could provide 24% of Maine’s electricity.
The law,LD 1652, “An Act to Support Solar Energy Development in Maine,” was unanimously enacted “under the hammer” in the Senate and enacted in a 103-39 vote in the House. It will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.
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