Big-time Democratic donor stays on the sidelines for Bellows … so far

Early Money Is Like Yeast.

That’s where the powerful political action committee EMILY’s List gets its name – and they’ve proven to be a powerful force in congressional politics for many, if not most, of the pro-choice, Democratic women they back. By providing early funds, long shots can be contenders, goes the thinking.

But not everyone makes the cut.

In Maine, there’s only one challenger on their list — Emily Cain, who is running in a Democratic primary for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District seat vacated by Rep. Mike Michaud. Cain is facing off against pro-life Democrat Troy Jackson and was one of EMILY’s List’s first picks in the 2014 election cycle.

But not on the list — so far — is pro-choice Democrat Shenna Bellows, who is running against three-term incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins.

Now, that could change, as EMILY’s List makes endorsements on a rolling basis. But they don’t throw good money after bad and it’s a clear indicator of their belief that as of yet, this isn’t a race to watch.

Also working against Bellows is that Collins is a pro-choice, moderate Republican.

OpenSecrets.org, a nonpartisan group that tracks political spending, shows Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Kay Hagan of North Carolina as the group’s top two cash recipients so far. Both are embroiled in some of the most competitive Senate campaigns for 2014.

Other top recipients on the list include Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky, Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii and Michelle Nunn of Georgia. Grimes and Nunn are attempting to turn a pair of vulnerable Republican seats blue and Hanabusa is fending off a primary opponent.

When asked about their Maine endorsement decisions, an Emily’s List spokeswoman called Bellows “an impressive candidate and her progressive vision resonates with so many in Maine and across the nation.”

“Maine has a strong bench of progressive women leaders in the state who put the interest of Maine families first, said Marcy Stech, the group’s national press secretary. “We are proud to support Emily Cain’s bid for Congress and are watching the Senate race closely.”

Bellows was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to participate in a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court against a suit that would give corporations the right to deny coverage of contraceptives, despite the mandate written into the Affordable Care Act.

Bellows criticized Collins for supporting a failed amendment to the legislation that would have given corporations the leeway to decline to cover contraceptives.

“We need stronger leadership on reproductive freedom in Washington,” Bellows said in a release Tuesday. “That we’re debating birth control in this race and races all over the country in 2014 is very sad.”

Bellows has proved adept at fundraising so far in her race against Collins —she raised more than $15,000 than the incumbent last quarter — but she trails the incumbent by more than $2.5 million in cash-on-hand, according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports.

And while Bellow’s is touting support from both the Feminist Majority PAC and the National Organization for Women’s NOW PAC, neither has shown the fundraising clout of EMILY’s List, which spent $7.7 million in the 2012 election cycle.

The Feminist Majority PAC spent just $28,000 on federal candidates in 2012 and the NOW PAC spent $65,000.

Rebekah Metzler

About Rebekah Metzler

Rebekah Metzler is a political writer with U.S. News and World Report, who hails from the state of Maine where she covered state politics for the Lewiston Sun Journal and MaineToday Media. She spent much of 2012 covering the presidential campaign and particularly enjoyed her time on the road in states like Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Ohio and Ohio. Metzler earned her master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and is a Bowdoin College grad.