With about 110 miles to go, Bellows is walking to draw attention to her campaign against Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who is seeking her fourth, six-year term. Bellows, the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, has said she wants to focus on jobs and the economy and is using the walk to reach out to workaday Mainers.

“The walk across Maine, starting in Houlton two weeks ago Sunday, has been such an inspiration and an education about what Maine voters are seeking in Washington,” Bellows said.  

She said while some parts of Maine, including the downtowns in Lewiston and Bangor, were bouncing back from the long recession that started in 2008, other places, especially in more rural parts of the state such as northern Aroostook County, were not recovering. 

“I tell people I’m walking because we need to restore grass roots in our politics, I’m walking to stand up for real people, not big money, in our elections,” Bellows said.

The next leg of Bellows’ trek will be into Oxford County and then through the Sebago Lake region south to Cumberland County. The trek is expected to end in Kittery on Aug. 12 with a follow-up celebration in Portland’s Monument Square at noon that day. Bellows has modeled the walk after one first done by Republican Bill Cohen when he first ran for the U.S. House in 1972.

On Monday, Bellows posted updates on her progress on social media, including Twitter, as she made her way to Dufresne Plaza on Lisbon Street in the downtown for a rally and series of speeches from supporters, including several Democratic lawmakers from the region.

Joining Bellows were state Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, and outgoing state Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston. Also on hand were state Sen. John Cleveland, D-Auburn, and state Rep. Nathan Libby, D-Lewiston. Libby is running for Craven’s Senate seat. Several other Democratic candidates and local party officials were also among the crowd of about 60 people.

Bellows and those backing her touted her support for a federal minimum wage increase as well as her support for increasing Social Security payments for seniors and the disabled by removing the caps on what the most wealthy Americans pay into the system.

She made a point of noting Collins has voted against increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 per hour as proposed by Democratic President Barack Obama.

In an apparent acknowledgement that Collins, known for striking bipartisan deals, has a lot of support among Maine Democrats, Bellows also pointed out that Collins has endorsed Maine’s Republican Gov. Paul LePage in his re-election bid. 

And while Bellows is still the long-shot candidate, polling well behind Collins, her supporters are upbeat she can pull off the upset. 

“I want to testify to her ethical standards, to her commitment to the people of Maine and to her commitment to winning this Senate seat,” Craven said. “A lot of people ask me if I think Shenna can beat Susan Collins and I always say, ‘Yes she can.'”

Bellows herself has often called her campaign against Collins a David and Goliath battle but reminds those listening that David defeated Goliath in the Biblical story.

Meanwhile, Collins on Monday was in Bar Harbor to announce an $18.4 million federal grant aimed at strengthening biomedical research and “hands-on” workforce training.

Collins appeared at the Davis Center for Regenerative Biology & Medicine at about 12:30 p.m.

Lance Dutson, a spokesman for Collins campaign, said Monday that Collins’ reputation for working hard in the U.S. Senate for all Mainers was what mattered most to voters.

“The people of Maine enjoy a uniquely personal relationship with Sen. Collins. That’s one of the reasons her approval ratings continue to be so high among Republicans, Democrats and Independents,” Dutson said in an email to the Sun Journal. “Mainers know her as a hard-working, bipartisan problem solver, but most of all they know her as ‘Susan.’ That personal relationship is what guides her as she works on behalf of people all over Maine, and is what drives her to work so hard, every day, to bring true leadership to the U.S. Senate.”

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