U.S. Senate Democratic Candidate Shenna Bellows Addresses 2014 ME Dem Convention (Video, Transcript)
(U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Shenna Bellows was introduced by Androscoggin County Democratic Chair Tom Reynolds of Lewiston. Here is a partial video of his address.)
Androscoggin Chair Tom Reynolds Introduces Shenna Bellows for Senate at Convention
(The Bellows for Senate campaign released Shenna’s speech as seen below.)
U.S. Senate Democratic Candidate Shenna Bellows Addresses Convention
Good afternoon. I’m Shenna Bellows, and I would like to be your next United States Senator.
Thank you. Thank you, Bangor, for hosting. Thank you, Mr. King for endorsing me — Stephen King, that is. Thank you, Mainers – thousands of Mainers from more than 365 Maine towns, from Kittery to Fort Kent, who have helped us raise more than $1 million.
Where I come from, a million dollars is a lot of money.
I grew up just outside of Ellsworth in the town of Hancock. My father is a carpenter. And we struggled when I was a kid. One Thanksgiving, my parents realized they had about $25 left in the checking account and no work coming into my father’s business. To bridge the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas, my mother went to work at the wreath factory in Ellsworth. After Christmas, she went to work as a greenhouse worker at Surry Gardens. And that is when we could afford electricity and running water.
So I worked through high school and college. I waited tables, I worked retail, I was even a Subway sandwich artist. I understand what it means to be working class.
And I am running for United States Senate because I believe working people deserve a voice in Washington.
As I travel across the state, from Eastport to Fryeburg, what Mainers tell me is that a lot of people are struggling right now. They’re working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. They’re being crushed by enormous student loan debt. They’re working full time and just not making it. They are feeling left out and left behind.
I will fight for all working Mainers. I will fight to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. It’s a matter of basic fairness. People need work to support their families, and people who work hard should earn enough to put food on the table, pay their bills and have a better life.
Too many Republicans in Washington seem to have forgotten what it means to struggle.
Republicans in Washington – including my opponent, Susan Collins – voted against equal pay for equal work. They voted against investments in small business. They even voted against raising the minimum wage.
It makes you wonder how someone like my opponent, Republican Susan Collins, who is paid $174,000 a year, can think that $21,000 a year is too much for working Americans. The daughter of a carpenter, I will never forget my working class roots. I will never forget where I came from.
When I was a kid growing up in Hancock, my friends and I would ride our bikes down to Hancock Point where you can see the mountains of Acadia National Park across the bay. I think every Maine kid grows up with an appreciation for Maine’s environment – the mountains, the ocean, the woods. But a growing environmental crisis threatens our future.
Republicans in Washington deny climate change even exists, and my opponent, Susan Collins, has accepted funding for her reelection from Exxon Mobil. Despite what you may have heard about her environmental record in comparison to her Republican colleagues, make no mistake – her lifetime League of Conservation Voters score is a D. When it comes to the environment, we cannot afford half measures. We cannot afford lackluster leadership in Washington. We need bold, visionary action to confront climate change before it’s too late.
In every threat lies an opportunity. Maine, with our tremendous natural resources, can be a world leader in conservation and renewable energy. We can create jobs that leave a cleaner world for our children and a stronger economic foundation for generations to come.
Turning these challenges into opportunities for the future won’t be easy. Indeed, pundits and career politicians may say it’s impossible. But we here in this hall and across Maine have won many battles that outsiders thought were impossible before.
Remember the Mainers United for Marriage campaign?
I remember when it came time to make a decision about whether or not to move forward to the ballot. We had lost in 2009, and many people were urging me and the other members of the Executive Committee to wait.
“The voters aren’t ready,” they said. “It’s too soon. You will never win.”
But they were wrong. And we knew they were wrong because of one solemn truth – a truth that kept us going in this fight, in this struggle, in this challenge: It is never too soon for equality under the law. It is never too soon to stand up for freedom and fairness.
Remember when Paul LePage and the Republicans took control of the legislature and the Blaine House in 2010? We’ve seen what happens when Republicans take control. They attack. And one of the first things they did was take away our voting rights. I criss-crossed the state debating the Republicans – including Susan Collins’ spokesman, who was leading the fight against our voting rights. And we won in every legislative district in the state.
I like a tough challenge. I always have. At the ACLU, I brought together a coalition of gun owners and librarians to fight against the Patriot Act. I have led groundbreaking campaigns on privacy and human rights. You will never have to lobby me to vote against torture.
The New York Times called me “the Elizabeth Warren of civil liberties.” Like Elizabeth Warren, I will always stand up. I will always be a voice for the voiceless. I will fight to restore our constitutional freedoms – to protect individual liberties and restore trust in our government again.
We can win this race, but I need your help to do so.
First, I need your whole-hearted support. I want your vote.
I’m going to tell you something – the secret to our campaign strategy. How we win.
If every Mainer who voted for Barack Obama votes for me, I will be your next United States Senator.
This election is a choice about the future of our state and our country. The road to victory will not be easy. But nothing worth fighting for ever is. Our history in this country is one of great struggle and great triumph. Time and time again in our history the people have risen up to demand change – for workers, for women, for people who have been left out or left behind.
At heart, I am an organizer. Are there any organizers in the room?
Good, because organizing is how we are going to win. Our campaign will reach all 504 Maine towns. Already, we are traveling all across the state – from Lubec to Eliot, from Dover-Foxcroft to Waldoboro. We are going to the towns that have been left out and left behind. In some ways, Maine is like one large, small town where grassroots organizing matters. We believe in the power of grassroots democracy. We believe that the system may be threatened – by dark money and corporate greed – but it is not broken. Because we believe that corporations are not people.
We believe that we, the people, can move the country toward a more perfect union. We believe, that together, we can make change. Together, we can win. Thank you.