Updated 3:56 p.m. ET, 3/3/2014
Washington (CNN) – National Democrats are focusing on states like Kentucky and Georgia to fend off a furious effort by Republicans to retake the Senate.
But Shenna Bellows thinks Maine may hold upset potential for her party, so much so that she's running and having some success recently with fundraising.
Although conventional political wisdom concludes otherwise, the liberal Democrat believes incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins is beatable this November.
"I think there are exciting indicators of success here," Bellows told CNN in a recent interview in Washington.
She sees a Republican Party split between libertarians in the Rand Paul mold and those who felt left out of the last presidential race.
They "really feel like Republicans, including Susan Collins, have lost their way on this idea of smaller government and less government intrusion in peoples' private lives," she said.
Collins is running for her fourth term and is not considered vulnerable heading into November's election. She is viewed as a moderate in Washington where the Republican Party has shifted sharply right in recent years.
She beat Democrat Tom Allen by a nearly 2-1 margin last time around, but faces a primary challenge this year from conservative Erick Bennett.
Still, two of the top non-partisan political handicappers, the Rothenberg Political Report and the Cook Political Report, both as of now consider Collins safe as she bids for re-election.
But Maine is a blue state that supported President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and the only state this year where an incumbent Republican is defending a seat in a Democratic-leaning state.
Bellows, the only Democrat in the race, stakes her campaign on positions opposing government surveillance, and supporting marijuana legalization and more environmental protections.
Environmental politics are important in Maine, which is mostly rural and famous for its scenic rocky seacoast and its woodlands. Tourism is a major industry.
Maine's unemployment rate was slightly below the national average at the start of the year.
Bellows is Collins' only Democratic challenger and says the incumbent senator isn't as moderate as she's perceived.
"She's been anchored by her party and she has been inconsistent with some of her votes," Bellows said.
Bellows said votes by Collins favoring the Keystone XL pipeline and against an extension of federal unemployment insurance and raising the debt ceiling are examples of how the she is not aligned with Maine voters.
Bellows' campaign narrowly outpaced Collins' in fundraising last quarter, bringing in $331,000 to the Republican's $315,000. But she lags well behind in cash raised overall, and is also facing a significant deficit in the polls.
Seventy percent of Maine voters didn't know who she was in a poll taken soon after she formally launched her candidacy in October.
Bellows, a former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, attributes her fundraising success to mobilizing grassroots support.
Following her strong fundraising quarter, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee endorsed her candidacy, calling her the "Elizabeth Warren of civil liberties."
Warren is a freshman Democratic senator from Massachusetts who is popular with liberals.
Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party). But they are defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs in November.
Half the seats Democrats are defending are in red or purple states, and Republicans need to pick up six seats and hold onto the ones they have to retake control of the chamber.
Collins' campaign bolstered the Republican's solid standing across the political spectrum in Maine.
"Senator Collins remains focused on the job that Mainers elected her to do," spokesman Kevin Kelley said, underscoring her work to create jobs as well as her support of legislation to increase oversight of NSA activities.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee batted down Bellows' chances against Collins, insisting that the Democrat is too liberal for Maine voters.
"Angus King said that Susan Collins is ferocious on behalf of her constituents, and he's one hundred percent right. Susan Collins is a strong, independent woman, and an effective legislator who always puts Mainers first," spokeswoman Brook Hougesen said.
"If the Daily Kos declares statehood, Shenna Bellows would fit in well, but in Maine she's way too far outside the mainstream for independent minded voters."