Who am I?
I was the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maine for the last eight years. In that leadership role, I developed a track record for building unusual coalitions with Republicans and Democrats alike to pass groundbreaking privacy and civil rights laws making Maine a leader nationwide. I was a leader of Mainers United for Marriage, working for seven years to pass the freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples in Maine, and I co-chaired the 2011 Protect Maine Votes ballot campaign to restore same day voter registration. Most recently, I organized a successful privacy campaign to require warrants for access to private cellphone communications, and I led the opposition to warrantless drone surveillance.
Prior to my work at the ACLU of Maine, I was the national field organizer at the ACLU in Washington, DC, organizing nationwide civil liberties campaigns including opposition to the Patriot Act, where I built broad coalitions that included librarians and gun owners alike.
My early career was devoted to economics. I worked as a research associate at Economists Incorporated from 1997 to 1999 before serving in the Peace Corps in Panama as a small business development volunteer where I developed a micro-lending program for artisans. I continued my work in economic development as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Nashville, Tennessee, advancing economic and educational empowerment in Nashville’s largest public housing project.
I am passionate about the environment and science. I worked as a research assistant for several summers during high school and college at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. I worked for the campus recycling program at Middlebury College, and I serve on the Manchester Conservation Commission today.
I am a leader in women’s rights and reproductive freedom. I have been recognized for my work to advance women’s health and reproductive choice by awards from the University of Maine Women’s Studies Department, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, the American Association of University Women, the Frances Perkins Center and the Maine Democratic Party.
I am a carpenter’s daughter. I grew up in the small town of Hancock, Maine without electricity or running water until I was in middle school. We didn’t have much, and sometimes we struggled. I worked through high school and college in diverse jobs from retail to waiting tables to time as a Subway Sandwich artist. I graduated from Ellsworth High School and magna cum laude from Middlebury College where I received highest honors for a thesis in economic and environmental sustainability.
My husband, Brandon Baldwin, and I own a home outside in the town of Manchester, Maine. We like to hike Maine’s beautiful mountains.
Why am I running?
I’m running for the United States Senate because I believe we need more courage and honesty in Washington. We need fresh vision of what’s next for America. People in Maine and across America are struggling. They no longer believe that their children and grandchildren will have more opportunities than they did. They feel that Washington is not listening. In the last two decades, we have experienced an economic crisis, an environmental crisis and a constitutional crisis that threaten our country’s future.
We can change this. We can have a better future that ensures economic opportunity for the next generation, preserves the environment and promotes civil rights and liberties for all, but only if we have new leadership in Washington with the courage, the vision and the honesty to advance real change.
I’m inspired by people like my parents. My mother is a nurse who obtained her college degree in her 50s. My father is a carpenter who started his own business thirty-three years ago. Sometimes, we struggled. We grew up without running water and electricity, and I learned from an early age the value of hard work. I’ve waited tables, worked retail and even been a Subway sandwich artist. My parents’ courage and work ethic has inspired me my entire life to work hard and to try to make the world a better place.
I made my final decision to run for United States Senate when I was working on a groundbreaking cell phone privacy law in the legislature this spring. I organized a broad coalition of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and Greens. We came together around the fundamental importance of our constitutional freedoms and the dangers posed by government intrusion into our personal lives. I led this broad coalition through several months of debate, and we were successful. In the wake of NSA spying abuses, we were one of only two states in the country to pass cell phone privacy protections. But real reform is still needed at the federal level. States can only do so much on any of these issues. Whether the problems are with privacy, the environment or unemployment, federal policy decisions matter.
I am proud of my work to build broad coalitions across party lines to pass legislation that made Maine a leader and a model for the rest of the country when it comes to civil liberties. I will bring that vision, commitment and bold leadership to Washington.
My top three policy goals in the United States Senate would be:
• Job creation by investing in seed capital for entrepreneurs
• Confronting climate change with a scientific approach that benefits the economy
• Fixing the Patriot Act and stopping NSA spying
I have grassroots and professional experience in each of these areas.
1. Job Creation by Investing In Seed Capital for Entrepreneurs:
I’m passionate about finding 21st century approaches to growing the private sector economy. Entrepreneurs create jobs, and to do so, they need capital, but often, private markets focus only on very large projects. We need a transformative stimulus bill that directs funds to the states for research and investment at the local level to propel entrepreneurs forward. The funds should be managed by a private board that reviews applications on a competitive basis – state level “shark tanks” to evaluate prospective enterprises. Entrepreneurs would have a more accessible statewide venue to access capital for ideas viewed as too risky or too small to attract traditional private investment.
I have experience working on job creation at the community level. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I facilitated the development of a micro-lending program for artisans in rural Panama. In Nashville, I helped launch an asset-building program for young people. I also have experience at the economic consulting firm of Economists Incorporated.
2. Confronting climate change with a scientific approach that benefits the economy:
We can address climate change in a way that benefits the economy and secures our future for the next generation. Government has an important and powerful role to play in choices about investment, particularly in research and development of the solutions that will be economically and environmentally sustainable.
I have developed a deep passion for science, and I understand how interconnected environmental protection and economic development are, especially in a place like Maine. I would bring my understanding of science, my organizing networks and my commitment to the environment to this effort. While I do not have experience working directly on issues of climate change, I was a research assistant at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory during high school and college. Today, I am a member of the Manchester Conservation Commission working on environmental protection at the local level.
3. Fixing the Patriot Act and stopping NSA spying:
I would build a right-left coalition enlisting allies ranging from Rand Paul to Patrick Leahy within the Senate and groups from the ACLU to the NRA outside of the Senate to move forward a comprehensive reform bill to fix the Patriot Act and stop NSA spying.
I have spent a decade at the ACLU advocating for privacy issues successfully by creating unusual coalitions. Under my leadership, Maine was the first state in the country to reject REAL ID. We were one of two states in the country to pass cell phone privacy protections this year. I would continue to advocate for restoration of our constitutional freedoms.
My DFA Values
The values of community, security and liberty are values I have championed throughout my career of non-profit service, and they are values I will continue to embody in this campaign.
I’m an organizer at heart, which means that community is fundamental to our campaign. Our campaign is building a grassroots movement in communities all across the state, bringing people together around a shared vision of our future. Our message is one of building community to advance positive social change, together. We will continue to be inclusive in our organizing efforts to ensure that we are reaching diverse geographic areas and populations. A carpenter’s daughter, I will always be grateful to my community in Hancock, Maine for all they did to help me become the person I am today, and I am committed to giving back to my community to ensure opportunity for the next generation.
Lasting security depends upon strong foundations of international understanding and democracy. My experience as a foreign exchange student and as a Peace Corps volunteer taught me that we all share a common humanity that transcends differences of culture and language. I believe in the power of diplomacy to keep us safe. I will promote diplomacy and human rights on the campaign trail. I will oppose costly military interventions that undermine human rights and security. On the campaign trail, I will also continue to promote the idea that we can be both safe an free, a philosophy I have championed since being hired by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2003 as a “Safe and Free” organizer.
For the last decade, I have been a champion of liberty in my state. I helped lead Maine’s freedom to marry campaign, serving on the Executive Committee of that effort for seven years, until we passed the freedom to marry on the ballot in 2012. I co-chaired a successful voting rights ballot campaign to restore same day voter registration in Maine. I led privacy, criminal justice, immigrants’ rights and reproductive freedom campaigns in our state capitol to advance and defend civil liberties. I will always be a strong voice for liberty on the campaign trail, taking every opportunity to talk about the importance of freedom and equality for all people in our country and our state. Equally importantly, my campaign will be open and affirming, recruiting the best talent from diverse backgrounds to lead our efforts.
My Campaign is People Powered!
This is a grassroots campaign. We hope to have organizers – paid and volunteer – on the ground in all 16 counties to recruit people for relational organizing – organizing through existing social networks on a peer to peer, friend to friend basis. Our goal is to reach every city and town in the state through a vast network of volunteers who will advocate support of my candidacy with their friends and neighbors. For example, one of our first fundraising goals is a $5 donation from every city and town in the state, all 504 of them.
Example 1: In the first week of my campaign, we visited all sixteen counties in the state for organizing events and public speeches. We toured small businesses and farms. We met with leaders of social service agencies who serve Maine’s most vulnerable populations. We attended union conventions and stood outside the paper mill gates at 4:00 a.m. to talk to workers about the issues that matter most to them. We planned this series of outreach events in less than a month by engaging progressive organizers and local Democratic county committees who volunteered their time to help us connect to the progressive grassroots. This was the first step in what will be a strategy of engagement with the progressive grassroots in every county in the state over the next year.
Example 2: From the beginning, our campaign has made an effort to connect with thought leaders in the progressive non-profit movement who are making a difference in our state. There is some amazing grassroots work happening in Maine in the areas of economic development, environment and civil rights. In the first weeks of the campaign, I attended conferences on poverty and early childhood development to learn more about the work that is being done in these areas and connect with the people who are doing the work. When the SNAP/food stamp cuts went into effect, our campaign attended a street vigil sponsored by a local homeless shelter to raise awareness about the impact of the cuts. We were then able to be a voice for these issues, sending out an action alert to our list to raise awareness about the 1 in 4 Maine children under 5 who are living in poverty. We intend to make this campaign a voice for the good work that is happening in Maine and the importance of leadership in the Senate to support the progressive movements on the ground trying to make a difference in these areas. Our campaign strategy is based on the philosophy that in a place like Maine, which feels like one small town, a contest of ideas, grounded in local community experience can triumph over the big money and corporate support that traditionally dominates politics. It is a privilege to be a voice for the progressive grassroots work that is making a difference in people’s lives.