The Daily Beast has a story about Shenna Bellows, who's 39 years old and the former head of Maine's ACLU. She's running an uphill battle to defeat Senator Susan Collins this year. There's a good chance you've never heard of her.
After a time as a field director at the American Civil Liberties Union office in Washington, D.C., Bellows returned to Maine. Leading the state office, she helped defeat a national ID-card requirement in the Maine legislature, setting off a wave of such defeats around the country; twice spearheaded a campaign to legalize same-sex marriage (losing once before winning in 2012); and successfully organized a bill that would require a warrant for law enforcement to access private cellphone communication....And (to judge from recent press releases on her campaign site) about raising the minimum wage to $10.10, about the awfulness of the McCutcheon ruling, about equal pay for women, and about fully supporting contraceptive access. In short, she sure as hell is from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
"I was honored to be called the Elizabeth Warren of civil liberties," said Bellows in an interview in New York, where she had come for a fundraiser and a series of interviews....
Bellows is sounding all the Warrenesque Democratic populist notes on economic fairness, talking up student-loan debt, and her own backstory -- growing up in a house without indoor plumbing or electricity to a father who was a carpenter and a mother who was a home health aide and working herself as "Subway Sandwich Artist" to help pay her way through college. She talks a lot about climate change, too....
So why isn't she being treated as a star in the liberal-sphere? I suppose, in part, it's because her campaign is an incredible long shot -- a Public Policy Polling survey taken last fall showed Collins beating Bellows even among Democrats -- but that's probably because 71% of respondents didn't know enough about Bellows to have an opinion on her. Scott Brown started his Senate race against Martha Coakley as a real long shot, as did a guy named Obama when he ran for president in '08.
And maybe Collins is just too popular to lose -- but Joe Lieberman was massively popular in Connecticut at the beginning of 2006, and had so much support among Republicans and independents that he was always the prohibitive favorite in the general election, as an independent if not as a Democrat, yet Ned Lamont Mania happened anyway. And Wendy Davis is struggling in polls against Greg Abbott, if not nearly as much as Bellows in Maine, yet Davis is a national star.
I think it's because Bellows doesn't have the right enemy. Alison Lundergan Grimes gets a lot of press because she's running against the hated Mitch McConnell. Davis's race is seen as a proxy fight against the crazy Texas GOP of Rick Perry and Ted Cruz, even though she's not running against either of them, and against the national anti-abortion movement, which has been on a rampage lately. Sandra Fluke was a star when her enemy was Rush Limbaugh -- but there was no great draft-Fluke movement when she was considering a run for Henry Waxman's seat in Congress, and she's running for a California state senate seat instead.
Maine is an increasingly liberal state. It shouldn't have a senator who's an enabler of the national GOP. (Yes, I know: it used to have two.) I'd really like to see Susan Collins taken down, or at least given a scare. I'm rooting for Bellows.