Sara Gideon (left) and Susan Collins. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik and Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Good morning from Augusta. There are 62 days until Election Day.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s not good timing right now. You are a lot better off waiting,” Fort Kent native Austin Theriault said of him slowing down his racing career due to the pandemic. “This has been a challenging year, all in all, and I’m not alone.” Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

With two months until Election Day, attacks in Maine’s U.S. Senate race are focused on the candidates’ husbands. The latest line of attack comes from the Democratic super PAC American Bridge, which accused Sen. Susan Collins of “corruption” on the basis that the lobbying firm where her husband, Thomas Daffron, was chief operating officer received government contracts. But there is no evidence of a link between those contracts and Collins’ role in the Senate, a key criterion for any corruption allegation.

Past that, the firm has continued to receive government contracts since Daffron retired a few years ago. Collins’ team told the Huffington Post this week that Daffron never lobbied the Republican senator, and pointed out that the official actions cited in the ad that either benefited or could have benefited government contractors at large were bipartisan.

The new ad against Collins follows months of Republican attacks against House Speaker Sara Gideon, the Democratic nominee for Senate, over a real estate development co-managed by her husband, Ben Gideon, and another man in the late 2000s. The business fell behind on property taxes beginning in 2008, leading Republicans to accuse Gideon of flouting the rules. The candidate’s campaign has said she worked for the company briefly in 2006 and 2007, though it did not answer questions about whether she was paid or how much.

But Gideon has rejected her opponent’s characterization of the firm as a “family business,” and her campaign and a lawyer who worked for the firm said that the bank, not the managers of the company, had control of the project’s finances when it began to fall behind on taxes. The campaign did not provide the full text of that agreement with the bank, though it did provide a letter from a lawyer who represented the company in the negotiations with the bank.

“Over the course of time, my husband and his business partner did resolve everything,” Gideon told ABC affiliate WMTW. Her husband is still carrying a loan of between $50,000 and $100,000 that showed up in a recent federal disclosure that is related to the project.

The negative ads give some indication of what the tone of the race might look like for the next two months. Outside spending in the race continues to grow, with more than $28 million in spending from super PACs as of this week, on top of many millions more in spending from dark money groups and the candidates themselves. 

On Tuesday, a Gideon spokesperson issued a tweet that looked to attempt to draw attention to anti-Collins narratives that the campaign wants highlighted by outside groups it is barred from coordinating with formally. Independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn are also in the race, and both recently took out the first radio ad buys of their own — though the tone is quite different.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Janet Mills pushes back key budget deadline in hope that federal aid could stem cuts,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “Gov. Janet Mills gave state department heads more time Monday to submit budget plans for next year as they prepare short-term cuts with hope that the federal government will provide more aid to prevent sweeping reductions.”

— “Sanford preacher linked to virus outbreak tells followers to put faith in God, not government,” Nick Schroeder, BDN: “The pastor’s lax attitude about the virus has strained a partnership between Calvary Baptist Church and York County Shelter, which used the church’s building to provide food and other resources to dozens of unhoused and low-income people in the community.”

One woman said the church has been sending unmasked missionaries to homes in the Sanford area. Kay Rumery of Sanford told the BDN that the pastor and two missionaries from the church attempted to push their way into her home in August within days of the wedding the pastor officiated in Millinocket. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating at least five cases of the virus linked to the church.

— “Maine’s seafood industry looking at $20M coronavirus bailout,” Fred Bever, Maine Public: “Commissioner of Marine Resources Patrick Keliher said that after some frustrating delays, state and federal officials are nearing final agreement on exactly how to allocate the funds. And he said that despite rumors circulating on social media that the funds are being diverted, the money will indeed go straight to individual seafood businesses in Maine.”

Fake quote makes the rounds

It’s easy for misinformation to spread on the internet these days, with a fake quote about Maine’s U.S. Senate race being the latest example. A tweet claiming to quote Collins’ showing support for President Donald Trump has made the rounds over the past few days, racking up thousands of retweets. Collins has taken heat for declining to say whether she’ll support Trump this year after openly opposing him in 2016.

The tweet links to an old article from a progressive news site that does not contain the fake quote. It’s a good reminder to all of us to click before your share — plus, reporters would really like it if you read the articles we tweet. Here’s your soundtrack.

Carpooling OK again if needed, Mills says

As the reopening efforts continue, the governor has given motorists the green light to travel together. Instead of being required to travel only with household members, Maine drivers now only have to do so “when practicable.” The order says further guidance will be coming on how Mainers should carpool in personal vehicles and how to transport employees and others in business and government vehicles. 

It could be a sign that traffic volumes are kicking up again, although the Maine Turnpike Authority has yet to release July and August numbers, or that people are returning to offices for the first time in months. Here’s what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends when traveling in a group.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Caitlin Andrews and Jessica Piper. 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...