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For MPBN's Your Vote 2014 live election results, click here.MPBN’s elections compendium is brought to you by AARP, MEMIC and Lambert Coffin.Debates:Click here to watch the 1st Congressional District debateClick here to watch the 2nd Congressional District debateClick here to watch the Senate debateClick here to watch the gubernatorial debateResources:Gubernatorial Race: GridPaul LePage (R)Mike Michaud (D): Profile, Maine Calling interviewEliot Cutler (I): Maine Calling interviewSenate Race: GridSusan Collins (R): Profile, Maine Calling interviewShenna Bellows (D): Profile, Maine Calling interview1st District Congressional Race: GridChellie Pingree (D): Profile, Maine Calling interviewIsaac Misiuk (R): Profile, Maine Calling interviewRichard Murphy (I): Profile, Maine Calling interview2nd District Congressional Race: GridEmily Cain (D): Profile, Maine Calling interviewBruce Poliquin (R): Profile, Maine Calling interviewBlaine Richardson (I): Profile, Maine Calling interviewFor a list of referendum questions, click here.

Bellows and Collins Spar Over Collins' Voting Record

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A.J. Higgins
/
MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - The political newcomer challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins went on the offensive today, challenging Collins' voting record on a number of issues. Democrat Shenna Bellows says Collins' votes - including her rejection of a minimum wage increase - are not in the best interests of working Mainers.

 

It was no accident that Shenna Bellows' State House press conference looked a lot like her latest television ad. As the underdog in the race against Collins, Bellows has been trying to convince voters that Maine's senior senator is a lot less independent than she's been made to seem. As evidence, Bellows has drawn up her own list, starting with Collins' opposition to a minimum wage increase.

"Susan Collins voted with Washington Republicans in April to block an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour," Bellows said. "Republican Susan Collins voted on the side of big corporations against the interests of working families by blocking an increase to the minimum wage."

Speaking for the Collins campaign, Lance Dutson says that Collins has voted for increases in the minimum wage in the past, but felt that $10.10 was simply too high, and had the facts to back up her position.

"The non-partisan congressional budget office has estimated that the president's proposal for $10.10 an hour could eliminate 500,000 jobs from the economy, and that's a serious issue," Dutson said.

Bellows also went after Collins for opposing a piece of legislation that Bellows says would protect employees who raise legitimate questions about workplace pay equity. "She decided to vote against the Paycheck Fairness Act, despite a majority of voters supporting fair pay for women," Bellows said.

Collins opposed the bill because she believes the Civil Rights Act and the 1963 Equal Pay Act already provide enough protection. On top of that, spokesman Lance Dutson says the bill was fraught with language that would almost certainly ensure years of litigation.

"That act is basically a bureaucratic monstrosity that will benefit nobody except maybe class action trial lawyers," Dutson said. "That's why Susan Collins opposed it, that's why Olympia Snowe opposed it and that's why Angus King opposed it."

Bellows also challenged Collins' opposition to a bill offered by Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, which was intended to offer veterans increased access to health care, employment and education, including a provision that would allow all veterans to take courses at in-state tuition rates.

"Susan Collins voted with Washington Republicans to kill the Sanders veterans' bill," Bellows said. "The American Legion called the vote, quote, 'inexcusable.' "

Dutson says it's not what was in the bill that Collins objected to, but what was left out. "It didn't contain provisions for the ARCH program, which would allow rural veterans to be able to use their local caregivers rather than traveling to VA hospitals sometimes three or four hours at a time," Dutson said. "The other problem was that it basically blew up the budget."

And as she has done in her ads, Bellows introduced supporters who said they once backed Collins. Collins' spokesman Lance Dutson says Bellows would do better to explain why some traditional Democratic constituencies, such as union workers at Bath Iron Works, and the same-sex marriage advocacy group Equality Maine, are not backing her campaign for the U.S. Senate.