Good morning from Augusta. There are 55 days until Election Day.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’ve had it in our home for probably two decades, but when we sold the house in January we were downsizing and my wife asked if I could lose the duck,” former Bangor Daily News editor Rick Levasseur said about a stuffed duck he accidentally pawned in violation of state and federal law. Here’s your soundtrack.
What we’re watching today
As Maine tries to determine its energy future, a price tag on inaction may shape talks going forward. A long-awaited report from the Eastern Research Group and Synapse Energy Economics released on Wednesday takes a detailed look at who is most vulnerable to climate change and the cost of mitigating those efforts as tentatively proposed by the Maine Climate Council convened by Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat.
The analysis found Maine economic output could take a 15 percent hit by 2050 without action. Impact would be centered on the crucial tourism industry and coastal communities key to it. The coronavirus pandemic has shown how important tourism is to Maine. A drop in dining and lodging taxes combined with a decrease in sales tax revenue has put the state in a projected $1.4 billion revenue hole over three years that budget officials are scrambling to fill.
At the same time, the state is at an energy crossroads. Central Maine Power’s proposed corridor is a few federal permits and several municipal approvals away from final approval. Court battles are continuing after a 2020 referendum effort was deemed unconstitutional. CMP and third-party analysts say the project provides clear environmental benefits that opponents doubt. They argue the project does not provide enough in offsetting benefits to the state.
The council still has plenty of work to do before finalizing recommendations. The body is tasked with putting together a final plan of action by Dec. 1. Their quarterly meetings — one today and one next week — are to be heavily focused on mitigation and investment strategies.
The Maine politics top 3
— “How the candidates in Maine’s US Senate race differ on health care,” Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News: “[U.S. Sen. Susan] Collins and her opponents in the 2020 election — House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, and independents Max Linn of Bar Harbor and Lisa Savage of Solon — agree on lowering drug prices, but deeply differ on how to expand coverage.”
— “Maine can print ranked-choice presidential ballots, but no guarantee method will be used,” Piper, BDN: “Maine can print ranked-choice voting ballots for the November presidential election, the state’s high court ruled on Monday, but it has not finally decided whether the system will be used in a case over whether a Republican people’s veto effort will move forward.”
The decision prompted confusion on Tuesday, and it does not guarantee that ranked-choice voting will be used in the November election. The ruling temporarily backed Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s stance that the Maine Republican Party people’s veto challenge to a law expanding the voting method to presidential elections did not make the ballot. However, the high court has yet to rule on the merits of that case. The decision should be read only as a license for Dunlap to begin printing ballots, which will be sent to voters on Oct. 2.
— “Bangor teacher faces backlash after lesson on race, privilege is shared to pro-Trump Facebook page,” Eesha Pendharkar, BDN: “The incident showed the polarized reaction that’s possible as Bangor teachers start delivering diversity and equity education to students this school year as one of a number of actions the school system promised to address racism in the city’s schools.”
These Massachusetts Senate opponents agree on one thing
The two Democrats who just faced off in a heated U.S. Senate primary in Massachusetts came together to support their party’s nominee in Maine last night. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, and U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Massachusetts, joined volunteers to phonebank for Gideon. Markey held off a primary challenge from Kennedy last week in a race that became a proxy war between different wings of the party.
It is typical for Senate candidates to get support from senators of their party. Collins has touted support from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, with whom she co-wrote the Paycheck Protection Program. She has one endorsement from a Democratic colleague — Sen. Joe Manchin of deep-red West Virginia. He is the most conservative member of his caucus, just as Collins is the most liberal Senate Republican, according to VoteView.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.