Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows thanked her family, staff and supporters for propelling a grassroots campaign that raised more than $2.4 million without accepting any corporate PAC money and made working class priorities central to this year’s race. Thanks to the support of working families around the state, Bellows greatly increased the visibility and public awareness of her signature issues — including increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, ensuring paycheck fairness for working women, enacting campaign finance reform, increasing veterans’ benefits, and expanding Social Security and health care benefits — on the campaign trail, in the media and during her five debates with Susan Collins.

After a yearlong campaign that featured a 350-mile Walk Across Maine — an effort the Bangor Daily News called “well-orchestrated [and] well-publicized” and that the Portland Press Herald said provided “the kind of moment that buoys the spirit” — Bellows offered heartfelt thanks to the thousands of people who made it possible to “put working class issues front and center in this election.” As the Press Herald noted, Bellows’ campaign reached voters all over the state who had felt left out of the political conversation:

“I think it is great to have a new voice out there, a progressive voice who really knows the issues,” said Greg Rossel of Troy, who along with his wife, Norma, brought a deluxe roadside picnic lunch to Bellows and her support staff [during the Walk]. “It is so important these days, when campaigns are all about money and are all about the upper class, that this campaign is much more about the grassroots and the working class.”

“You don’t always win the first time,” Bellow said this evening. “I’m in this for the long haul. Together, this is just the beginning.”

Voters she met throughout the campaign thanked Bellows for offering ideas and addressing problems they felt demanded stronger attention from elected leaders. Her themes tapped into popular demand from working families for action on multiple issues.

– A May 2014 CBS poll showed 71 percent support for campaign spending limits. Shenna campaigned on her support for the DISCLOSE Act — which she endorsed when it was introduced in the Senate earlier this year — and the Udall Amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling. She held a press conference about the Amendment after Senate Republicans filibustered it.

63 percent of Mainers support a minimum wage of at least $10 an hour, according to a July poll by the Maine People’s Resource Center. Shenna supports a gradual increase to $10.10, as MPBN covered here.

– A February 2014 national survey found that 60 percent of voters are more likely to back a candidate who supports fair pay for women, a higher minimum wage, paid family and medical leave and paid sick days. Shenna campaigned on her support for the Paycheck Fairness Act and wrote an op-ed for Huffington Post about her support for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s FAMILY Act in October.

– In February, the American Legion and more than two dozen other veterans groups supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ veterans pay and benefits bill. Shenna campaigned on her support for the bill and received the endorsement of Veterans’ Vision, which cited “her strong support for those who have served” and said she “understands the challenges facing our veterans, and was quick to offer her support in addressing them.”

Bellows said that given the clear appetite for action, Congress and Maine’s elected leaders owed it to voters to act decisively on these issues as soon as possible. She closed the evening surrounded by supporters at the Maine Grind in Ellsworth, near her home town of Hancock.

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