Welcome back to Five Questions!

Today, meet Shenna Bellows, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Maine. The former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union is running on a liberal platform against Sen. Susan Collins (R). Collins is popular in Maine, making Bellows's bid a long-shot.

The former Peace Corps member, who likes Republican Sen. Rand Paul's record on civil liberties, landed the endorsement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Tuesday. And she has raised money at a respectable clip. In short, Bellows is worth keeping an eye on, even as she faces a steep uphill climb against Collins.

We sat down with Bellows Tuesday. Below is a video of her "Five Questions" segment followed by a transcript edited for brevity.

Shenna Bellows is challenging Sen. Susan Collins for her seat in Maine. She's a Democrat who praises President Obama, but she also says Sen. Rand Paul is right on the NSA. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)


1. Are there any similarities between serving in the Peace Corps and running for office?

It's exactly the same. In the Peace Corps, I did a lot of getting to know my community, going door to door. And in Maine, I'm traveling all across the state, going door to door and hearing people's stories.

2. Maine grows lots and lots of blueberries. Better breakfast: blueberry pancakes or blueberry muffins?

Blueberry pie. Or, blueberry pancakes with maple syrup.

3. How do you assess Rand Paul's record on civil rights and civil liberties?

On civil liberties, he's been terrific. On issues like the USA Patriot Act, NSA surveillance, the National Defense Authorization Act, domestic drone surveillance, he's been terrific. On civil rights, I'm waiting for him to support same-sex marriage.

4. What about President Obama's record on civil rights and civil liberties?

They are like mirror opposites. President Obama has been terrific on voting rights, LGBT rights, women's rights. On NSA spying, he and this administration have absolutely gone too far.

5. Who would you like to see the Democrats nominate for president in 2016?

Former senator George Mitchell, from Maine? (Laughs.) I think there are a lot of good candidates on the bench. Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren are two terrific women. I would love to see the Democrats nominate a very strong woman.

Theresa Poulson contributed to this post.