Race for U.S. Senate

in the 2014 General Election

Shenna Bellows

Shenna Bellows

186,518 (31.31%)

Democratic - Manchester

Candidate profile

Susan M. Collins

Susan M. Collins

408,795 (68.63%)

Republican - Bangor

Candidate profile

Write-in candidates

  • Christopher A. Lyons
  • Deril V. Stubenrod

Should Congress raise the federal minimum wage?

Bellows
Yes Yes. We should raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour to grow the economy and reduce welfare dependence. We should raise the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour to grow the economy and reduce welfare dependence. Republican Susan Collins voted against the bill to raise the wage to $10.10 because she said it was too much, but $10.10 an hour at 40 hours per week is still only $21,000 a year, and even that isn’t usually enough to raise a family without assistance. On my 350-mile walk across Maine, I stopped at the Red Barn in Augusta. They pay their workers more than the minimum wage because they understand that it benefits their employees and their business when their employees are making a decent living. One of the best ways to grow the economy is to put money in workers’ pockets. An artificially low minimum wage that keeps workers in poverty really benefits the WalMarts and McDonald’s of the world. We, the taxpayers, are subsidizing the profits of fast food chains and big box retailers when their workers are forced to go to the food pantry to feed their families. Raising the federal minimum wage would help thousands of Maine workers directly and grow the economy.

Show full answers

Collins
Yes I am working with a bipartisan group of Senators on a plan to increase the federal minimum wage to $9/hour while ensuring Maine’s economy grows and adds jobs. I support an increase in the federal minimum wage.  It’s been seven years since Congress raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25, and it’s time for an increase. That is why I have been working with Senators on both sides of the aisle to reach agreement on a plan to increase the minimum wage in a way that does not cost our economy an estimated 500,000 jobs. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the proposal that was considered in the Senate earlier this year to increase the rate to $10.10 an hour – a 39 percent increase from the current minimum wage – could reduce employment in the United States by a staggering half a million workers.  This proposal was also considerably higher than the $9.00 per hour federal minimum wage that President Obama proposed just last year. A compromise could be reached to increase the minimum wage and provide a real benefit to lower-income families, while avoiding such a large and negative impact on economic growth and job creation at a time when the economy is still fragile. We must work together to craft policies that support economic growth, better jobs, and higher pay.

Show full answers

How should the U.S. respond to the rise in immigrants crossing the southern border, particularly unaccompanied children?

Bellows
Comprehensive immigration reform including an earned path to citizenship and victims’ protections and legal help for children. We need comprehensive immigration reform that includes an earned path to citizenship and expands legal assistance and victims’ protection for children. We need to increase funding to the overburdened immigration system to ensure due process under the law for each case. Immigrants, especially the children, should receive access to legal counsel during the process, and the standard for cases involving children should be what is in the best interest of the child. Where possible we need to establish alternatives to detention, especially for children. We cannot build an enormously expensive wall along the border or militarize thousands of miles of American territory as a response to a humanitarian problem. Leaving the broken system in place is not the humane or economically sensible thing to do for the long term.

Show full answers

Collins
We must fix the well-meaning, misguided policies that caused this crisis. The children must be treated well and returned home quickly unless they have a legitimate claim for asylum. I am deeply troubled by the fact that so many Central American children and teenagers traveling without their parents have crossed our southern border in the past year.  Most of these children come from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and travel more than a thousand miles to reach the United States.  They face a treacherous journey, where they are preyed upon by criminal gangs and the "coyotes" who promise to smuggle them into our country for thousands of dollars. ??In August, I led a Congressional delegation to our southern border to see firsthand how our immigration system and border communities are coping with this crisis, and to understand better why these unaccompanied minors undertook such a risky journey.  I am convinced that this crisis is the result of well-intentioned but misguided policies that have led Central American parents to believe that their children would be given special treatment and be allowed to stay even if they crossed our border illegally.  The President, as well as the leaders of these Central American countries, must make clear to parents in the region that children who arrive here illegally will be sent back home quickly.  In addition, the President must also press Mexico to do more to enforce its southern border, and to prevent criminal gangs from transporting unaccompanied children across its territory.  ??Finally, Congress should revisit a 2008 law, which is contributing to the crisis. This well-intentioned law set deportation procedures that allow unaccompanied minors from some Central American countries to remain in the U.S. far longer than those from Canada or Mexico. 

Show full answers

How do you propose fixing Obamacare?

Bellows
Move toward universal healthcare by expanding Medicaid, adding a public option and gradually expanding Medicare to cover more people. I support universal healthcare for all Americans, and I will work to fix the Affordable Care Act to expand access to healthcare for working Mainers. I think it’s important that the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to about 35,000 Mainers, but too many families are still going without healthcare coverage. My mom is a home healthcare nurse, and she sees firsthand what happens to families who don’t get proper medical treatment early. I support Medicaid expansion and gradual Medicare expansion to increase the number of people with healthcare coverage. I think we should add a public option to the Affordable Care Act to assist in lowering costs and providing more options for consumers. We should also lower costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices. We need to keep the portions of the Affordable Care Act that benefit everyone, like the provision that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people based on pre-existing conditions. Republican Susan Collins voted against the Affordable Care Act and is cosponsoring repeal. It’s irresponsible to suggest repealing the Affordable Care Act and allowing insurance companies to discriminate again without a viable option to provide affordable healthcare for all. I will fight to make healthcare truly affordable and available to every American.

Show full answers

Collins
Congress should work to fix Obamacare and achieve the consensus goals of containing health care costs, increasing quality and access, and improving outcomes. I opposed this partisan law because I predicted it would lead to fewer choices and higher insurance costs for middle-income Americans and most small businesses. At this point, however, I don’t think that it is feasible to outright repeal the entire law since the President would veto a repeal.  Therefore, Congress must work to fix flaws in Obamacare.  I am particularly concerned about the effect that the law is having on Maine’s small businesses.  While most small business owners want to provide health insurance for their employees, many simply cannot afford to under Obamacare.  I have talked to many who say they face a double digit increase in their insurance rates.  In addition, enormous penalties included in the law are preventing employers from hiring additional workers.   One particular flaw is the fact that the law defines anyone working 30 hours a week or more as “full time.”  This creates a powerful incentive for employers to cut employees’ hours, not because they want to, but because they have to.  For example, one of the largest school systems in our state tells me that it is tracking and capping the number of hours that substitute teachers can work to ensure that they don’t work more than 29 hours a week.  Fewer hours means less money in the teachers’ paychecks and more disruption for their students.  I have introduced bipartisan legislation with Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) to change the definition of full-time from 30 to 40 hours a week – a common-sense standard. The bitter rhetoric and partisan gridlock over the past few years have obscured the very important fact that there are many health care reforms that have overwhelming support in both parties. For example, there is bipartisan support for tax credits for small businesses and individuals to help them afford insurance, and insurance market reforms that permit children to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26 and that prevent insurers from imposing pre-existing condition exclusions on children or individuals who have maintained insurance coverage. We should also be able to agree on delivery system reforms that reward value rather than volume and quality over quantity, and that increase transparency throughout the health care system. 

Show full answers

Do you support a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United?

Bellows
Yes I support the carefully crafted Udall amendment and campaign finance reform because big money threatens to drown out the voices of voters. Yes. I support the carefully crafted Udall amendment and campaign finance reform because big money in politics threatens to drown out the voices of ordinary Americans. We need to overturn Citizens United because the influence of money in politics threatens our democracy. I support strong disclosure laws and public financing of federal elections. I propose a national clean elections system, modeled after what we have here in Maine.

Show full answers

Collins
No I have always supported improving the transparency of our campaign finance system, and we can do so without limiting the constitutional rights of Americans. Throughout my service in the Senate, I have worked for greater transparency in our campaign financing system, and I continue to believe that this system must and can be further reformed.  As an original cosponsor of the 2002 bipartisan Campaign Reform law, known as "McCain-Feingold," I was very disappointed that the Supreme Court struck down so many of its key provisions.  I oppose, however, a constitutional amendment to limit the scope of the First Amendment related to the Freedom of Speech, which the American Civil Liberties Union has stated "would severely limit the First Amendment, lead directly to government censorship of political speech and result in a host of unintended consequences that would undermine the goals the amendment has been introduced to advance…."  Meaningful reform of our campaign finance laws is achievable in a manner consistent with the First Amendment.  Congress should pass legislation to increase transparency and expedite the reporting of campaign donations.  One approach is to strengthen transparency laws to ensure that voters have quick and easy access to information that can help them make informed decisions.  That is why I am a cosponsor of a bill introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, which would require all election-related designations, statements, and reports to be filed directly with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). I also support legislation proposed by Senator Angus King, which would require campaigns to notify the FEC within 48 hours of receiving campaign contributions of $1,000 or more, and that would require Senate candidates to file reports directly with the FEC, instead of with the Secretary of the Senate.  Common-sense reforms of the kind proposed by Senators Tester and King would improve transparency in our campaign finance system, and I believe both could get the support they need to become law. Furthermore- and most important - neither would risk eroding the fundamental liberties that are the heritage of the American people.

Show full answers

Are Second Amendment rights properly balanced with the reality that gun violence is a growing public safety threat in the U.S.?

Bellows
Yes As a former NRA member, I support the Second Amendment. We should advance bipartisan gun safety laws that protect public safety and freedom. As a former member of the National Rifle Association, I believe in the Second Amendment, and I support bipartisan reforms that make gun ownership safer for all of us. I support background checks to make sure no one who poses a public safety threat can buy a gun without scrutiny. I believe reasonable gun safety measures are congruent with our constitutional freedoms. We should no more sacrifice security for freedom than we should sacrifice freedom for security.

Show full answers

Collins
Yes Efforts to address gun violence must preserve Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans and recognize that mental illness is often a factor in gun crimes. Maine has one of the highest rates of gun ownership, yet the lowest rate of violent crime in the country.  Responsible gun ownership is part of the heritage of many families in Maine, including my own.  I’ve worked to uphold this heritage, and have opposed legislation that would infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.  Denying the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens won’t change the behavior of individuals who are intent on using firearms for destructive and tragic purposes.  Instead, I believe that policies should focus on keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals and those with severe mental illnesses who could endanger themselves or others.      I support the bipartisan Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act, which would crack down on two significant sources of gun violence in our country: straw purchases and gun trafficking.  This bill would strengthen current penalties against offenders and equip law enforcement officials with the tools they need to prevent and prosecute these gun crimes, while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.  I am a cosponsor of the School and Campus Safety Enhancements Act, which would provide matching grants to help cover the cost of stronger security measures in schools, and the Excellence in Mental Health Act, a bipartisan bill that would expand to mental health care for individuals through our nation’s Community Mental Health Centers.  As a nation, we must examine the fact that serious mental illness is a factor in many violent crimes. I continue to strongly oppose a national gun registry and national buyback programs. I support background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those with serious mental illness.

Show full answers

Should the U.S. be less involved in international conflicts?

Bellows
Yes We should focus on the best interests of the American public and pause carefully before spending billions more on wars we cannot afford. We need to be very thoughtful about what’s in the best interest of the American public and pause carefully before spending billions of dollars more on wars we cannot afford that make us less safe. My opponent, Susan Collins, voted multiple times for the war in Iraq, which cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion that should have been invested here at home. I have serious concerns about responding to conflicts that go back decades with more counterproductive invasions and bombings. We cannot be the world's lone military policeman. We should promote peace and stability through strategic diplomacy and coalition building. We should invest in educational efforts, public health measures, anti-corruption campaigns and sensible foreign aid that strengthens our relationships abroad. We shouldn't use war as a first resort, and we should certainly be careful that our policies aren't creating the next ISIS. We need to be more targeted and strategic in our approach to foreign policy to ensure that our actions are truly in the interest of the American people.

Show full answers

Collins
Yes Our foreign policy must be credible, reflect the threats to our nation, and serve the interests of our national security. It must recognize that terrorism remains a serious threat. It is critical that American foreign policy be credible, anchored in reality, and advance our national security interests. Unfortunately, the President’s foreign policy has not been effective in many areas. For example, the President’s vacillation initially on how to handle the enormous threat posed by ISIL and his delay in imposing meaningful sanctions in response to the Russian invastion of Ukraine have badly damaged U.S. credibility among both our allies and our adversaries. As we have seen with the Administration’s slow response to the threat posed by ISIL, the President’s indecision has frequently resulted in a reactive foreign policy rather than one where we develop a strategy early that would make it more likely that we, working with our allies, could achieve our goals. Simply put, “hope” is not a reliable foreign policy strategy. The United States should only use military force when our national security interests require it.  For example, I do not believe airstrikes were necessary in Libya in 2011. After the airstrikes and the death of Qaddafi, Libya has become a terrorist safe haven, where our Ambassador and three other Americans were killed in a 2012 terrorist attack.  In contrast, the growing threat ISIL poses to the safety of Americans at home and abroad leads me to conclude that airstrikes, in concert with a coalition of allies, are necessary. The President should, however, request, and Congress should debate, an Authorization for the Use of Military Force to take on ISIL.  This military action is too significant for the President to conduct without a specific authorization from Congress. An effective strategy will include military and non-military elements, including cutting off ISIL’s financing and counter messaging from moderate Muslims around the world. In addition, our top military commanders have testified that boots on the ground are a necessary component of a successful counterterrorism strategy, but they should not be American boots. We must rely on Arab allies in the region to provide ground forces.

Show full answers

Is the oversight that Congress currently provides the U.S.’s surveillance agencies sufficient to protect personal liberties?

Bellows
No Government spying is out of control. We must restore constitutional freedoms to protect individual liberty and restore trust in government. Congress has failed to protect our constitutional freedoms, and government spying is out of control. The government is wasting billions of taxpayer dollars spying on ordinary Americans instead of focusing in on those who would do us real harm. Measures like the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board are little more than window dressing for abuses by the NSA and other federal spy agencies. We need to restore our constitutional freedoms to protect individual liberty and restore public trust in government again. That’s why I support repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act and stronger checks and balances on the NSA. We can be both safe and free.

Show full answers

Collins
No Judicial review is also required. I coauthored laws to protect civil liberties and to prevent intelligence failures, and I support further reforms in both areas. When I wrote the landmark intelligence reform bill with Senator Lieberman after 9/11, we created the National Counterterrorism Center and the Director of National Intelligence to strengthen our nation's counterterrorism efforts. Notably, we also created the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to ensure that an independent oversight body exists to protect civil liberties in the conduct of counterterrorism efforts.   While the current oversight provided by Congress, the Courts, the Executive Branch, and the independent PCLOB act together to protect the civil liberties we Americans value so greatly, I have voted for legislation to further strengthen the privacy protections and oversight related to all intelligence activities. I have authored legislation to increase declassification efforts, to strengthen protections for legitimate whistleblowers, improve cybersecurity to safeguard the privacy of Americans, and to guard against insider threats through better security clearance processes.   In addition, one of my first acts on the Intelligence Committee was to insist that the President release the legal justification memos governing the use of drones. In addition, I voted to declassify the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the treatment of detainees. The threat of a terrorist attack is greater now than at any time since September 11, 2001.

Show full answers

How would you preserve Social Security?

Bellows
Increase benefits for seniors and strengthen the program for the next generation by scrapping the cap, so the wealthy pay their fair share. I would work to increase Social Security benefits for our seniors and strengthen it for the next generation by scrapping the cap, so the wealthy pay their fair share. On my walk across Maine, I met many seniors who are surviving solely on Social Security benefits, and often their checks are not covering their living expenses. Roughly 1 in 3 Maine seniors depend entirely on Social Security, and many of them have to make difficult choices between food and medicine. We can and must increase these benefits, and we can do so in a fiscally responsible way to protect Social Security for the next generation by expanding the revenues into the system. Right now millionaires and even billionaires pay the same amount into Social Security as someone earning $117,000. I support scrapping the Social Security cap entirely and making sure everyone pays their fair share.

Show full answers

Collins
Strengthen benefits for low-wage workers. No privatization or payroll tax rate increase, but consider raising wage cap. Social Security is the foundation of retirement income for most Americans, and I am committed to preserving and strengthening this program that has made the difference between poverty and an adequate standard of living for millions of Americans. As successful as this program has been, it does face serious financial challenges. The Social Security retirement fund is projected to be exhausted and unable to pay full benefits in 2033. Our country therefore needs to have a constructive discussion about how best to ensure that Social Security is there for our children and grandchildren as it has been for our parents and grandparents. As we consider how to preserve Social Security, we need to strengthen the safety net to ensure that men and women who have worked all their lives will not retire in poverty. That means paying special attention to protecting the benefits of low-wage workers who depend primarily or solely on Social Security for their retirement income. We should not increase payroll tax rates, which are already too burdensome for working families and small businesses and particularly for those who are self-employed. Social Security and other payroll taxes also affect employers, particularly small businesses, and have an impact on job creation. We should, however, consider raising the cap on the wage base on which the tax is applied. I oppose privatization because it could expose Social Security beneficiaries to an unacceptable degree of risk. Social Security is one of our most successful government programs, and has lifted millions of seniors out of poverty. Yet, with an average benefit of less than $16,000 a year, Social Security on its own is not enough to guarantee a secure retirement. There currently is an estimated $6.6 trillion gap between the savings American households need to maintain their standard of living in retirement and what they actually have. It is therefore clear that we must do more to encourage saving and make it easier for employers to offer retirement programs to their employees. That is why I authored the bipartisan Retirement Security Act which will reduce the cost and complexity of retirement plans, especially for small businesses, and encourage individuals to save more for their retirement.

Show full answers

What type of infrastructure in Maine needs the greatest attention? i.e. Transportation, energy, etc.

Bellows
Tech infrastructure, like universal broadband Internet access, to connect people with good ideas in rural communities to the global economy. Maine needs technology infrastructure, like universal broadband Internet access, to connect people with good ideas in rural communities to the global economy. The biggest challenge to Maine’s economy is the lack of jobs, particularly for young people, which has created a brain drain and hurt communities of every size all over the state. We need to invest in our young people and focus on what the future could bring to Maine rather than remaining stuck in the past. The benefits of expanding Internet access nationwide to every community would be similar to the New Deal’s successful Rural Electrification program that brought electricity to communities nationwide. Small businesses could grow by being able to connect with larger markets. Workers could telecommute. Entrepreneurs with good ideas in Maine’s small towns could then connect to the global economy and bring their products to larger markets. I am also passionate about investing in traditional infrastructure including roads and bridges, which are in terrible shape, and I think we need to aggressively invest in renewable energy to confront climate change and strengthen domestic energy independence.

Show full answers

Collins
Infrastructure investments strengthen the economy and create jobs. Transportation, broadband and natural gas are priorities. Infrastructure investments in transportation, broadband, and natural gas, are critical for improving competitiveness, adding jobs, and growing our state’s economy.  Such investments increase access to our state’s natural resources, attract tourism and businesses to Maine, and provide a gateway for commerce.  ? ?As the Ranking Member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I have ensured continued investment in the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.  To date, Maine has received grants totaling more than $90 million for highway, bridge, port, and rail projects.  I am also proud to have authored the law to allow the heaviest trucks to drive on the federal interstates in Maine rather than being diverted to busy downtown streets and country roads. This law has made our secondary roads and downtown streets safer, while saving Maine companies time and money.  Through my leadership on this committee, I will continue to address Maine’s aging transportation infrastructure, which has both safety and economic development implications.?  Access to affordable, high-quality broadband is also critical to Maine’s future.  I support policies to spur investment in rural broadband and will continue to insist that laws affecting the Internet encourage robust investment in broadband in rural areas.  Funding for the Universal Service Fund, which provides funding annually to support rural telephone service, is also essential.  Last year alone, the Fund provided almost $50 million in our state, and it has allotted almost $700 million to Maine since its establishment. This Fund also helps Maine schools and libraries pay for Internet access through the “E-Rate” program. Maine’s natural gas infrastructure must be modernized.  Our state’s consumers and businesses are negatively affected by limited pipeline capacities, often resulting in high and volatile energy prices. Investment in natural gas infrastructure is needed to help meet the demand for this cleaner fuel and to improve Maine’s competitiveness.

Show full answers

What’s the worst thing about the federal government? How would you fix it?

Bellows
Government spying on law-abiding Americans undermines the Constitution. I would build a bipartisan coalition to repeal the Patriot Act. Government spying on law-abiding Americans undermines the Constitution. The status quo isn’t working when we’re spending billions of dollars on warrantless spying on ordinary Americans instead of focusing in on the real terrorists who would do us harm. This is a key difference in this race. Susan Collins has voted time and time again to renew the Patriot Act, and voted to expand National Security Agency (NSA) spying on ordinary Americans. I would build a bipartisan coalition to repeal the Patriot Act and place checks and balances on the NSA surveillance programs. I have a decade of experience standing up for the rights of the people on privacy. In Maine, I led a bipartisan coalition to pass groundbreaking privacy legislation requiring law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing email and cell phone communications. In Washington, I will work to restore our constitutional freedoms to protect individual liberty and restore public trust in government again.

Show full answers

Collins
Too many policies coming out of Washington are anti-growth and discourage job creation. We need to help small businesses start up, grow, and create jobs. The biggest challenge facing the State of Maine is the need for more jobs so that Mainers can stay in our great State to live, work, and raise their families.  The number one thing we can do to reinvigorate Maine’s economy is to help small businesses start up, grow, and succeed since they create the vast majority of jobs.  That means: investing in Maine workers through training programs that match their skills with employers’ needs; updating our tax code to encourage small business investment in equipment and other assets needed for them to compete and grow; cutting the red tape that is tying the hands of our job creators; and ensuring that we have the transportation and energy infrastructure in place to support an expanding economy.  I have authored several bills as part of my Seven Point Plan for Maine Jobs to address each of these areas and others.

Show full answers