DENVER — Rep. Tom Allen, who is challenging Sen. Susan Collins for her Senate seat, arrived in Denver on Monday to attend the Democratic National Convention. Allen is one of a handful of Senate challengers whom the party plans to feature this week, and he is scheduled to speak to the convention delegates Wednesday evening.
Allen said he felt it was important to be in Denver rather than back home campaigning because “I wanted to stand with my party’s nominee and be here.
“Ultimately, no one can accomplish anything alone. We need to be part of a team,” Allen said. “This convention is about building a team for change that’s strong enough to get a working majority in the House and Senate and elect Barack Obama.”
The Democrats are hoping an Allen victory in November will help them get to a filibuster-proof majority of 60 Senate seats.
Allen said he would be spending time with the Maine delegation this week, attending panels and working groups during the day and at night going to the Pepsi Center, the venue where the convention is being held.
Allen was a featured speaker Monday at a luncheon held at a restaurant in downtown Denver sponsored by The Faith and Politics Institute, a bipartisan, interfaith, nonprofit organization that focuses on issues of faith and leadership in public life.
Allen said he has been involved with the group for eight years and attends weekly meetings at the Capitol. Each session features an inspirational reading, discussion and a closing prayer. “Our daily lives are so chaotic and so confusing and so pressure-filled” that the sessions help members of Congress to “stay grounded spiritually and emotionally,” Allen said.
Allen, who was introduced to several hundred people attending the event as a “senator-to-be,” told the group he thinks this election can be similar to that of 1964 when Lyndon Johnson was elected to the presidency and the Democrats won a large number of House and Senate seats. Because of those victories the party was able in a short time to pass civil rights legislation and Great Society domestic programs.
“I want the country and the Congress to get it right. I believe that is possible again. The chance for that progressive moment is what led me into this Senate race.”
Through The Faith and Politics Institute Allen has joined Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and other members of Congress for several “civil rights pilgrimages” to locations that were key in the civil rights movement, including Selma and Birmingham, Ala.
Lewis also spoke at the luncheon and talked about the importance of including faith in public life. “If it wasn’t for my faith, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” said Lewis.
The son of sharecroppers, Lewis was a civil rights leader who participated in the Freedom Rides to desegregate the South and was beaten so violently by police that he still has the scars on his head.
“If it hadn’t been for my faith, I don’t know what would have happened to me. Maybe I would have given up.”
Allen, who said he was preparing his Wednesday night remarks, said, “It’s a real honor to be selected” to speak.
When asked what he planned to say, Allen quipped, “You’re going to have to wait a little bit. I can’t give you the speech in advance — that would be wrong.
“Elections are about the future, and I’m going to talk about the future. My candidacy is about changing the direction of the country.”