Secretary of State Matt Dunlap oversees the recounting of ballots in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Augusta, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “What we have heard is that this change for the hospitals presents a challenge,” said Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on new data reporting requirements for hospitals. “Frankly, any change in any operational tempo in the midst of an emergency can be burdensome and disruptive.”

What we’re watching today

Even if your opponents concede, a ranked-choice count has to move forward. Former state Rep. Dale Crafts learned that after his qualified victory in Tuesday’s Republican primary in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District. After he won with nearly 45 percent of votes, opponents Adrienne Bennett and Eric Brakey conceded and endorsed him, but Maine law says the only way to avoid a ranked-choice count is to get 50 percent of votes.

So, the count by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office will begin in Augusta today. Crafts released a statement on Thursday saying he would help state lawmakers draft a change to Maine law that would prevent automatic counts in these situations, saying it is “completely ridiculous to me that we would perform a dog and pony show” in a decided election.

A handful of legislative races also look to be going to ranked-choice counts. Seven Democratic legislative primaries had three candidates or more and it appears that at least three of them are going to ranked-choice counts, though Dunlap’s office has not yet confirmed that.

The closest races are in House District 47 centered in Falmouth, where Arthur Bell bested Heather Abbott with 39 percent of votes to her 36 percent. An important Maine Senate primary in Waldo County is also headed to a count, though Glenn “Chip” Curry has a 10-point lead over second-place finisher Robyn Stanicki and is in a commanding position to win.

In one of the closest and most-watched races of the night, the losing challenger said he will request a recount. Sen. Kim Rosen, R-Bucksport, narrowly fended off a primary challenge from the bombastic Rep. Larry Lockman, R-Bradley, in the Tuesday primary. The Bangor Daily News calculated her winning margin at 78 votes by Wednesday, but that didn’t take tiny Greenfield Township into account. 

On Friday, Lockman said on WVOM that he would request a recount after winning that town 20-1, taking Rosen’s winning margin to 59 votes. It’s nearly impossible to turn that kind of a count absent massive issues, but it will stretch things out.

The Maine politics top 3

— “What’s at stake in the Maine Legislature’s squabble over returning to Augusta,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said he has told members that bills with large price tags are “probably not going to happen” and that they should use their judgment ahead of a special session that he envisioned could last approximately two days.”

— “Gas companies to spend $6 million encouraging voters to oppose corridor,” Steve Mistler, Maine Public: “A Calpine spokesman recently told Maine Public Radio that the slug of electricity into the regional grid would suppress electricity prices enough to hurt the company’s bottom line.”

— “Visually impaired Mainers sue state, saying it has failed to provide fully accessible voting,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “Exercising the most fundamental right in a democracy, the right to vote, should not depend on the kindness of strangers,” said Disability Rights Maine attorney Kristen Aiello. “But for blind people and others with print disabilities in Maine, it does.”

High-profile Dems line up to endorse Sara Gideon

The House speaker did not wait long before establishment Democrats threw their weight behind her. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday announced his support of House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, in her campaign to challenge incumbent Sen. Susan Collins, citing her legislative record on prescription drugs and climate change. 

It came the days after Gov. Janet Mills and 1st Congressional District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree publicly supporting her. It’s unlikely she will get an endorsement from Maine’s other U.S. Representative, Jared Goldenhe vowed to remain neutral in the race last year.

Dark money stays dark

We reported last month on a shadowy super PAC that was created in mid-June and only spent money on the 2nd District primary. The group, which had been attacking Brakey, the eventual third-place finisher, had to file with the Federal Election Commission this week and reveal its funding sources.

However, the filing did not reveal much. The group was funded entirely by a 501(c)(4) nonprofit called the American Economic Freedom Alliance, a group not required to disclose its donors. This is an increasingly common tactic among big political spenders — by funneling their money through so-called “dark money” groups, they can circumvent federal disclosure requirements and keep their sources of funding secret. Here’s your soundtrack.

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 clumm@bangordailynews.com (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.

To reach us, do not reply directly to this newsletter, but contact the political team at mshepherd@bangordailynews.com, candrews@bangordailynews.com or jpiper@bangordailynews.com.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...