In first TV ads, Bellows introduces herself while Collins taps union support

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, left, and her Democrat challenger, former ACLU of Maine chief Shenna Bellows. BDN file photos by Gabor Degre and Mario Moretto

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, left, and her Democrat challenger, former ACLU of Maine chief Shenna Bellows. BDN file photos by Gabor Degre and Mario Moretto.

Let the TV ad battle for the Maine’s U.S. Senate race begin.

Both incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and her Democrat rival, former Maine ACLU chief Shenna Bellows, have begun airing their first ads of the season. The two ads show exactly the discrepancy in the starting point of these two candidates.

Bellows is well-known in political circles for being a leader on issues such as gay marriage, voters’ rights and other civil liberty touchstones. But outside the dome, she’s not so much of a known commodity. So her ad focuses on who she is.

Bellows is introducing herself to voters who probably don’t know her. To that end, the ad does a fine job, even if it’s hyper-kinetic pace is a little … distracting. It highlights her work on civil rights, mentions her working-class background and touches on one of her campaign’s top talking points, which is the grassroots nature of her financial support.

After nearly two decades in the Senate, Collins is widely considered the most popular incumbent politician in the state. She has no need — at all — to introduce herself to voters.

Instead, she aims squarely at labor, traditionally one of the Democrats’ most reliable electoral strongholds. In April, every single union at Bath Iron Works endorsed Collins. It makes sense — BIW’s parent company, General Dynamics, is Collins’ single largest campaign donor, and the senator has fought hard to keep BIW relevant by securing contracts which, in turn, protect and even create jobs at the colossal shipbuilding plant on the Midcoast.

So even while many labor groups in the state are lining up to endorse Bellows, Collins’ ad leans hard on the unions at BIW to give her some blue-collar, labor cred. Here’s the ad:

Collins is usually described by media as one of the last remaining moderate GOP lawmakers. The National Journal ranks her as the least-conservative Senate Republican. She’s successfully maintained an identity in Maine independent from her party affiliation, and this ad reinforces it.

Maine GOP launches social ad buys

The Maine Republican Party on Wednesday launched “Not Right for ME” a website dedicated to attacking Democrats for opposing the GOP’s welfare bills.

David Sorensen, the Republicans’ communications director and attack-dog in-chief, said the party will buy Facebook ads targeting users who live in each State House district held by a Democrat.

It’s pretty boilerplate, hyperbolic political mudslinging —  “Senator X supports welfare abuse!” the website shouts, without any relevant context (though it does link directly to the votes in question so, with a little digging, you can get a clearer view of the bills in question) — but it just goes to show you that if you think you can avoid political ads by avoiding TV these days, you are sorely mistaken.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.