George Smith’s recent column introducing central Mainers to Shenna Bellows was well done and gets to the heart of this extraordinary woman’s campaign.

Bellows’ roots in Maine are deep. She has lived, worked and fought to make Maine a better place. She has a deep commitment to the Constitution and to justice. She is able to bring politicians from across different political philosophies together over principled stands.

People who have the opportunity to hear her speak and to discuss politics with her understand the depth of her principles and her interest in hearing and understanding others’ points of view.

This campaign will be a test of Sen. Susan Collins’ character. I would suggest two measures:

• Collins should enter into public debates with Bellows early this year. The people of Maine deserve an open and vigorous debate about very different concepts of government. Failure to do so is disrespectful of us as voters.

• Collins should take a forceful stance for transparency in campaign finance. The recent Supreme Court decision re Citizen’s United is a dark stain on our democracy. A principled approach would need to include sharing the names of all her supporters, as well as requiring any organizations supporting her campaign directly or indirectly to do the same, with a commitment to speak out vigorously against those organizations and their message should they not do this.

If the senator says no or gives a partial response to these challenges, she does not deserve to represent the people of Maine.

Shenna Bellows has the character and principles to represent Maine people and their aspirations in the U.S. Senate. There is an important difference between the tw candidates, and we deserve that debate.

Roger A. RenfrewSkowhegan

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