ELLSWORTH — In her first appearance as a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Shenna Bellows on Wednesday morning listed civil rights, campaign finance reform, the environment and the economy as issues she hopes to address if she gets elected to Congress.

Giving her stump speech its inaugural run to a standing-room only breakfast crowd at the downtown Riverside Cafe on Main Street, Bellows did not make any mention of Susan Collins, the person she hopes to replace in the U.S. Senate.

Speaking afterward to a reporter, Bellows said she wants voters to learn more about her and her background and not to define herself by who she is running against.

“Today, as I launch, I really want to make sure that voters understand who I am and what I’m about,” Bellows said. “I have a great deal of respect for Sen. Collins’ work ethic, but in the last two decades we’ve experienced a constitutional crisis, an economic crisis and an environmental crisis that threaten our country’s future.”

With her background with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, where she served as executive director for eight years until last month, civil liberties are expected to figure prominently into Bellows’ campaign platform. On Wednesday, she said that passage in recent years of the Patriot Act, Real ID Act, the NSA electronic monitoring program, and the National Defense Authorization Act represent a “constitutional crisis” in Washington that have infringed on the rights of citizens.

“Politicians in Washington have trampled on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” Bellows told her supporters. “Those [acts] threaten our democracy and if elected I will work to repeal those pieces of legislation and improve on our privacy.”

Bellows also emphasized that she grew up in the neighboring town of Hancock. She is the daughter of a carpenter and waited tables and worked in retail during high school and college so she could pay her bills, she said.

“This road will be hard. Carpenters’ daughters don’t usually run for federal office,” she said. “These races can cost millions of dollars, and that’s why we have a Congress of millionaires instead of of a Congress of working people.”

If elected, she added, she will “passionately pursue” campaign finance reform.

Bellows’ campaign appearance in Ellsworth was the first of several she has planned for Wednesday. She is expected to be at Rising Tide Brewery in Portland at noon, at Forage Market in Lewiston at 3 p.m., and then at the Regatta Center in Eliot at 6 p.m. On Thursday morning, Bellows is scheduled to make another breakfast appearance in Presque Isle, at 7:30 a.m. at the Whole Potato Cafe.

ELLSWORTH (AP) — The former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine has formally launched her campaign for U.S. Senate.

, who’s seeking the Democratic Party nomination to challenge three-term Republican Susan Collins, told supporters Wednesday in Ellsworth that the nation needs more “courage and honesty” in Washington.

She held the kickoff event in Ellsworth, next to the town of Hancock, where she grew up. That’s being followed by events in Portland, Lewiston and Eliot, along with a rally Thursday in Presque Isle.

The 38-year-old from Manchester is the first to announce a challenge to Collins.

Bellows has never run for public office, but this will not be her first campaign. She helped lead the ballot-measure campaign to approve same-sex marriage in Maine last year


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