In this April 5, 2016, file photo, President Barack Obama looks to Vice President Joe Biden, left, as National Security Adviser Susan Rice, sits right, before he speaks to media in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. Credit: Carolyn Kaster / AP

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We have never heard a ‘mayday’ over our radio in all of our hours out on the water, but heard today a ‘pan-pan’ which means urgent, but not yet vessel or life-threatening,” said Stacey Guth of Portland, who was aboard a nearby boat when she heard the distress call for what may be Maine’s first shark attack death come through on Monday.

What we’re watching today

A former White House adviser with Maine connections is apparently on the presumptive Democratic nominee’s shortlist for vice president. Former Vice President Joe Biden is seriously considering former national security adviser Susan Rice as his vice presidential pick, according to numerous shortlists of potential picks. On Monday, Politico reported that while Sen. Kamala Harris of California may be the front-runner for the pick, she is no lock.

The chatter comes as Biden could make his pick by the end of the week. Rice, who has never run for elected office but served under the Clinton and Obama administrations, briefly contemplated running against Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, after Collins’ vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

The New York Times on Tuesday published details of that short-lived courtship, saying Rice conferred with former advisers to President Barack Obama and operatives in Maine, including Michael Cuzzi, who worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign. She showed up at a fundraiser for Gov. Janet Mills, but the potential run was puzzled about by many here since Rice has never lived in Maine.

That is all despite Maine connections — her maternal grandparents immigrated from Jamaica to Maine, her mother was born in Portland and Rice has a summer home in Lincolnville. Several of her male relatives graduated from Bowdoin College, from where she received an honorary degree in 2018.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Janet Mills slams GOP bid to relax Maine limits on Massachusetts, Rhode Island tourists,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “For the life of me, I cannot understand why Republicans care more about Massachusetts money than the life of a Maine person,” the governor said in a prepared statement.

Mills’ immediate dismissal of Republicans’ proposed plan is sure to heighten the tensions between the political parties in Augusta. Republicans’ plan also includes increasing gathering limits by 150 and getting rid of the testing alternative, but Democrats and Republicans already cannot agree on what the scope of a potential special session would look like. 

They are going to need to come to the table soon: Mills’ Economic Recovery Committee told the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee Monday that the state will need to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to recover from the effects of the pandemic. That is compounded by a projected $625 million budget shortfall.

— “Mainers face income drops as Congress mulls virus unemployment extension,” Jessica Piper, BDN: “More than 84,000 Mainers filed continued claims for the week ending July 18, the most recent week for which data are available, marking a downward trend. But the expiration of the extra $600 is coming as some are still waiting to receive their first benefits, as issues with the state’s online interface and difficulties reaching state workers by phone have led to significant delays.”

— “A new COVID-19 testing method is causing some confusion in New England,” Charles Eichacker, BDN: “A relatively new method of testing for the coronavirus has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after two cases across northern New England in which people initially shown to have the virus later tested negative using a more reliable technology.”

Ranked-choice voting goes before Maine’s high court

You would be forgiven if the storyline around ranked-choice voting in the presidential election has you confused. The high-dollar effort was deemed to have fallen short by Secretary of State Matt Dunlap two weeks ago, but a legal challenge around whether the people’s veto effort was legal at all is still going forward with oral arguments today in Maine’s highest court. 

Republicans, not willing to give up the fight so easily, are appealing Dunlap’s decision to the courts as well. If Dunlap’s decision is upheld, they are likely to appeal that decision and it could end up in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court one more time. 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...