Good morning from Augusta. There are 47 days until the November election.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “One of our biggest challenges is it takes eight to 10 days to get equipment we ordered on Amazon.com when it used to take two days,” Fred Grant, owner and chief executive officer for Northern Maine Media Inc., said of a challenge we have all experienced this year as his company works to beef up broadcasting of high school sports. Here’s your soundtrack.
What we’re watching today
The political conversation around the controversial hydropower corridor proposal will not be going away anytime soon. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling last month that a 2020 referendum effort to block Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect project was unconstitutional was a major blow to opponents. Before Wednesday, it seemed as though the narrow path for opponents of the project went through the Maine courts.
But they filed a second referendum bid, this time with the aim of pressuring the Legislature into effectively voting down the corridor. It would require the Maine Legislature to take a two-thirds vote to approve any transmission lines in the future and require another two-thirds vote to approve the use of public lands for projects including this $1 billion corridor.
This try builds on the premise of a lawsuit from opponents who say the Legislature had to approve a key Somerset County land lease. While it attempts to sidestep issues that led the high court to rule the first bid unconstitutional, it could run into similar problems if tested in the courts since justices warded off power to veto executive branch decisions.
One way or another, the referendum will put pressure on lawmakers over the next year. Opponents are assured to put in 2021 bills on the topic that could serve as litmus tests, while leading lawmakers are going to have to answer more questions about their support of the project, which opponents think is unpopular enough with Mainers to inspire change.
CMP has been spared the political battle for now, but the powerful utility has locked down the legislative and regulatory ends of the project, with Gov. Janet Mills, a project supporter, helping the corridor survive legislative challenges last time. It created bipartisan coalitions on each side of the project. The utility will fight this bid as hard as the last.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Ranked-choice voting gives longshot Lisa Savage toehold in Maine’s US Senate race,” Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News: “The reaction may have been different without Maine’s first-in-the-nation ranked-choice voting system. It allows Savage to run to [House Speaker Sara] Gideon’s left without liberal voters worrying her presence could help [Sen. Susan] Collins win. It comes as third-party candidates across the U.S. have faced challenges with ballot access amid Democratic concerns that Green Party candidates in the Midwest could flip the 2020 election to President Donald Trump.”
Savage got no love in a poll that showed different results from other surveys thus far. A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday gave Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon a 12-point lead over Sen. Susan Collins, an outlier in a race where polling has been relatively steady. In most other polls, Gideon has led Collins by just a narrow margin. The poll did not include Savage, who had polled at 6 percent in an AARP survey last week. Fellow independent Max Linn has not made it into any survey of the race to date.
— “Hottest average daily temperature recorded in the Gulf of Maine,” Bill Trotter, BDN: “The effects of climate change in Maine have already been seen through shorter periods of winter ice covering the state’s lakes, larger lobster hauls moving east toward cooler waters, and the virtual disappearance of northern shrimp from the gulf, to name a few examples.”
— “Bangor on track to start new advisory committee for racial equity and inclusion,” Charles Eichacker, BDN: “After a summer filled with local and national protests against racism and police violence, Bangor officials are considering a few different initiatives aimed at addressing racial and other inequities in the city while also building trust with the local police.”
Eric Trump to appear in southern Maine
The president’s son will stump for him in Saco this afternoon in an event titled “Fighting for Maine Lobster.” It is the second event from the president’s family surrogates in Maine over the past few months. Eric Trump’s wife, Lara Trump, was among a group to visit Old Orchard Beach in July. Both events were held in the 1st District, where Trump has trailed significantly in polling, rather than the 2nd District, which he won by 10 points in 2016. Polling has been close in the more conservative part of Maine this year.
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.