Democratic Senate candidate Shenna Bellows, who had a strong initial fundraising effort in her bid to unseat Republican Sen. Susan Collins, is embracing all the resources available to her, most recently touting support from a pair of pro-marijuana political groups.
But it’s who is not giving to her that’s got political insider curiosity up.
In her most recent campaign finance report, Bellows received a $1,000 donation from top Democratic political bankroller Donald Sussman, husband of Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat representing Maine’s 1st Congresssional District. In contrast, she tallied the max $2,600 donation from Bob Monks, another top Democratic donor, Senate President Justin Alfond and Tess Gerritson, an author and another staunch Democratic giver.
Pingree ran against Collins in 2002, in a fairly high profile bid that ended in a 16 point loss for the Democrat. Though the two are both part of the same tiny Maine delegation in Washington now, there’s no doubt the two offices share a bit of a residual rivalry. So you’d think Sussman and Pingree would pull out all the stops to defeat Collins in 2014, right? Cue the gossip.
Political insiders freely speculate that perhaps Pingree doesn’t want Bellows to do very well against Collins because it could hinder the potential political ascent of her daughter, Hannah. Hannah Pingree, the former Maine House speaker, and newly minted political television host, has long been seen as a potential statewide candidate for Democrats. But if Bellows beats expectations against Collins, it could place her at the head of the line.
But off-the-record speculation could also be just that – particularly in the face of an announcement Wednesday that Bellows is headed to a Washington, D.C., fundraiser next week hosted by none other than Pingree and Sussman.
Other notable names on the event invite – which will be held at a Pennsylvania Avenue law office – include Tom Goldstein, a lawyer who has argued several cases before the Supreme Court as well as co-founder of SCOTUSblog; Kathy Bonk, co-founder and executive director the Communications Consortium Media Center; Marc Tucker, president and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy; Carolyn Lukensmeyer and executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.
The only other takeaway from the event is that it shows while Bellows is quick to highlight the importance of earning contributions from Maine, she is aware in order to truly challenge the formidable Collins she’ll have to embrace money from everywhere.