This story is informed by BDN’s Citizens Agenda project, in which we asked you, our readers, to share your priorities, concerns and questions for the 2020 election. Read all stories in this project here.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Housing is my prime source of stress,” said a respondent to a Maine Affordable Housing Coalition survey in June meant to gauge how the pandemic has affected renters.
What we’re watching today
We want to know how your political priorities have changed after the coronavirus. After doing this exercise once in January, the Bangor Daily News is asking readers to share the political issues they care about most going into the 2020 general election as part of a “citizens agenda” model of political coverage. You can take the survey here.
We came away with some valuable information about our readership in January, when more than 500 people responded to our questionnaire. For example, Democrats cared most about climate or the environment and health care while Republicans cared most about taxes and spending and jobs and the economy. Corruption or ethics was a high-priority issue for both.
The BDN used that information to form policy-focused voter guides to the primaries, but we plan on doing more with this kind of data as we move forward. The idea is to zoom in closely on the ideas of candidates all the way down to the legislative level on the issues you care about most, particularly after the coronavirus has illuminated systemic issues in many parts of our society.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Maine spending $2M to market itself as safe tourism destination amid pandemic,” Lori Valigra, BDN: “Our job is to market the state of Maine regardless of the situation we’re in. People want it to be the way it always has been and it just isn’t, said Steve Lyons, director of the tourism office.
Senate Republicans’ $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill will roll out today. It is expected to contain another round of Paycheck Protection Program loans championed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, while lowering a $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefit to $200 while subjecting it to further adjustments down the road, according to The Associated Press. It is only a starting point for negotiations with Democrats with Republicans themselves divided on the heavy spending on a new package. There is much more to come here.
— “Bar Harbor college rescinds invitation to speaker who champions conservative judges,” Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News: “Rob Levin, spokesperson for College of the Atlantic, said Wednesday that the college changed course on having [Leonard] Leo involved ‘for both logistical challenges associated with holding the Institute remotely and for issues many community members had with his values.’”
— “Portland officials told social workers to stop publicly distributing food to those in need,” Nick Shroeder, BDN: “City officials say the issue largely is a bureaucratic one that would be solved if the agency obtains a permit. But it’s driving a wedge between the city and social service providers on how best to care for people experiencing homelessness in Portland, a demographic that’s grown during the coronavirus pandemic and one that could worsen as eviction proceedings resume on Aug. 3.”
Progressive groups pour money into Maine U.S. Senate race
Progressive and dark-money groups are ratcheting up their attention to Maine’s U.S. Senate race. NextGen Maine, a branch of a progressive national group looking to engage young voters in the upcoming election, has pledged $220,000 in ads over the next few months. The buy was announced alongside the group’s endorsement of House Speaker Sara Gideon, the Democratic nominee to face Collins, citing Gideon’s stances on health care, college debt and the environment. The group says it aims to register 7,000 voters in the state by November.
It comes on the heels of other large ad buys targeting the state over the past week. Majority Forward, a liberal nonprofit that does not have to disclose its donors linked to Democratic Senate leadership, launched its own ad hitting Collins for early remarks she made about President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. Planned Parenthood, who endorses Gideon, announced a six-figure ad buy targeting vulnerable Republican senators. It is another example of how a large coalition of Democratic groups are, so far, outspending Collins, a Republican, in the campaign at large.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and Caitlin Andrews. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email firstname.lastname@example.org (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.