Good morning from Augusta. We are one day from the Maine presidential primaries. Here’s a page featuring our coverage of the biggest races.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “By every historical measure, we were never supposed to get anywhere at all,” former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, the first openly gay man to run a major presidential campaign, said as he ended his run on Sunday night. Here’s your soundtrack.
What we’re watching today
Two candidates dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary this weekend, and one of them is likely to shake up the race in Maine. Buttigieg announced last night that he was suspending his campaign despite strong performances in Iowa and New Hampshire last month. His departure is significant in Maine because the former mayor polled at 16 percent of the vote in a Colby College survey of Maine voters in mid-February, trailing only Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Buttigieg, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden were all expected to be well behind Sanders in Maine, but near the 15 percent threshold needed to win delegates in Maine. With just a few days until the primary, it’s not clear where Buttigieg supporters might go.
National polling from Morning Consult had his supporters split close to equally among Sanders, Warren and Biden when it comes to second choices, while an Economist poll had Biden and Warren as the top two candidates Buttigieg supporters were considering. With the exits of Buttigieg and billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who dropped out on Saturday after failing to pick up delegates in South Carolina, only six of the 12 candidates on Maine’s Democratic presidential primary ballot are active in the race.
Ranked-choice voting is not an option in the primary. People who have submitted absentee ballots to their municipal clerks also can’t recall them before Tuesday. In another wrinkle, votes cast for the candidates who dropped out after qualifying for the ballot will still count. It all could make for some threshold madness in Maine on Tuesday.
Sanders won the backing of a progressive U.S. Senate candidate on Sunday as the incumbent and the front-running Democrat won’t say who they’re backing. Lobbyist Betsy Sweet of Hallowell endorsed Sanders in a speech at the Vermont senator’s Portland campaign office on Sunday, calling him “the candidate exciting a new generation of voters.” She is the second U.S. Senate candidate to back Sanders after lawyer Bre Kidman.
They are the only two candidates to endorse in the race so far. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who opposed Donald Trump in 2016, voted by absentee ballot in the Republican primary in which the president is unopposed in Maine. She declined to tell NBC affiliate WCSH who she voted for in an interview, saying she’s “focused on my job and also on my own campaign.”
House Speaker Sara Gideon, the leading Democratic candidate, has also refused to endorse so far in the unsettled Democratic field, as has former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse.
Candidates are still looking to pick up supporters wherever they can. Both Sanders and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar — fresh off a Saturday visit to Portland — dropped new lists of endorsers from Maine over the weekend. The Vermont senator was endorsed by several state representatives and senators while Klobuchar’s new supporters include District Attorney Natasha Irving of Waldoboro and former Portland Mayor Jill Duson.
The Maine politics top 3
— “How Maine Democrats will award delegates in Tuesday’s presidential primary,” Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News: “In Maine, 24 pledged delegates are up for grabs in the state on Tuesday. They will be allocated proportionally based on outcomes in three different jurisdictions: nine delegates are based on the vote totals in the 1st District, seven are based on the totals in the 2nd District and the remaining eight are based on the state’s overall results. ”
— “Maine revenues up $40 million this year, but forecasters signal coronavirus concern,” Mal Leary, Maine Public: “A Maine panel said Friday the state should see an additional $40 million in revenue during the fiscal year ending in June, but projected increases in the next three years could be revised downward if the emerging coronavirus triggers a recession.”
The extra money led the governor to announce two new initiatives as part of her 2020 spending package. Expect Republican resistance. Gov. Janet Mills hailed the projection as a sign that Maine “continues to be on solid financial footing.” She said her administration will propose hiking her $127 million supplemental budget proposal to shield Medicaid from cuts being considered by the federal government and increases reimbursements for health services delivered by the state. Republicans haven’t weighed in on the proposed change yet,
— “Portland voters will decide whether to expand ranked-choice voting,” Nick Schroeder, BDN: “Voters here will have an opportunity on Tuesday to expand the use of ranked-choice voting in its municipal elections. The method allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, reapportioning the second and third choices of voters who favored the lowest-placed candidates, which reduces the likelihood of ‘spoilers.’”
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Jessica Piper and Caitlin Andrews. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email email@example.com (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.
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