Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bellows Catches On

It was a surprisingly active week in the Collins-Bellows race. It started late Friday with the news that Shenna Bellows had managed to outraise Sen. Susan Collins in the 4th quarter of 2013.

That development, taken together with Tuesday's endorsement of Bellows by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), spurred a flurry of Bellows coverage in the national press, culminating in a National Journal piece that called the former American Civil Liberties Union of Maine executive director, "nothing short of a progressive's dream candidate."

(Coverage from local outlets Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News exhibited the usual pathologies, with PPH privileging the senior senator's point of view and BDN waiting four days to deliver a slanted piece built on bizarre assumptions.)

It's striking how quickly Bellows has been able to move from nationally-unknown long shot to progressive standard bearer. This is a function of the ever-accelerating pace of the news cycle, enabled by social media and in particular Twitter--which was not a factor in the 2008 Maine Senate race. But it's also a function of the growth of left-of-center media infrastructure.

Bellows has adeptly leveraged TV, radio and webcast to get her message out. And link by link, retweet by retweet, her candidacy has edged onto the radar of literally tens of thousands of activists, political junkies and potential donors.

Of course, even with PCCC calling her the "Elizabeth Warren of civil liberties" it's far from certain that Bellows and her campaign will emerge as a key progressive focus in 2014. But the odds are exponentially better than they were just seven days ago.

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