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.

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

1 – https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2014/01/millionaires-club-for-first-time-most-lawmakers-are-worth-1-million-plus

2 – http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/princeton-experts-say-us-no-longer-democracy

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