LEWISTON, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins stopped by Simones’ Hot Dog Stand in downtown Lewiston on Wednesday morning as part of her re-election bus tour.
Collins, seeking her fourth term in the Senate, is facing Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows in the upcoming fall election.
Collins is on the first three-day leg of a more than 350-mile “All of Maine” tour that started in Bangor on Tuesday.
Collins carried the city of Lewiston with broad support when she was re-elected in 2008. She said winning the city again is a top goal of her campaign in 2014.
“I was very honored last time when Lewiston gave me its support,” Collins said. “I’m hoping we can repeat that performance.”
When she first won the statewide Senate race in 2002, the city voted for her Democratic opponent.
Meanwhile, Bellows’ campaign is receiving a boost from outside with a $300,000 television advertisement blitz funded by Democracy for America, which launched a two-week campaign against Collins on Wednesday as well.
Advertisements set to run on television statewide criticize Collins for her support of income tax breaks for the “ultra-wealthy while voting against common-sense measures to protect the livelihoods of working-class Americans,” according to a news release issued late Tuesday.
“Susan Collins caved in to Mitch McConnell and the Tea Party,” the narrator in the television spot says. “Susan Collins turned her back on working people and turned her back on the middle class.”
The advertisements also criticize Collins’ opposition to raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour, as proposed by President Barack Obama.
Collins has said she would support a minimum wage increase but doesn’t support an increase to $10.10 per hour. Maine’s minimum wage is $7.50 per hour.
Lance Dutson, a spokesman for Collins campaign, described Democracy for America as an out-of-state SuperPAC and said Bellows connection to it shows that her campaign, which trails by wide margins in the polls and in fundraising, has become desperate.
“Desperation has set in with the Bellows campaign,” Dutson said in a message to Maine media. “Last week, they released an internal poll showing her losing by 24 percent and garnering the support of only 64 percent of Democrats. Yesterday, the Maine Democratic Party sent a tracker to watch Sen. Collins and dozens of her supporters eat ice cream at Gifford’s Ice Cream stand in Skowhegan. And today, Shenna’s allies began running negative ads designed to attract the support of Democrats.”
On Wednesday, Collins’ tour bus was traveling to Hiram, Cornish, Limerick, Waterboro, East Waterboro, Alfred, Springvale and Sanford, with the plan to end up at Mill 67 for a happy hour from 5:30-7 p.m.
The tour restarts at 8:15 a.m. Thursday at Congdon’s Donut Shop in Wells before traveling to Wells, Kittery, Saco, Scarborough, Portland and Bath.
Bellows said during her visit to Lewiston earlier in August, as she was completing a 350-mile walk from Houlton to Kittery, she met a lot of voters who told her the country was on the wrong track.
“They are tired of being taken for granted and not listened to. They want a leader who will stand up for jobs and the economy all of the time and who will be accountable to real people and the grassroots and not big money,” Bellows said. “I’m excited about the momentum my campaign is picking up and if we win all of the Democrats we will win Lewiston. If we win Lewiston, we will win this race.”
Bellows said Democracy for America PAC also was a grassroots group with many Maine supporters and donors.
“We are thrilled to receive grassroots support from their members in Maine,” Bellows said.