This pair of 2020 file photos shows incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, left, and Maine Democrat House Speaker, right, candidates for U.S. Senate in the Nov. 3 election. Credit: AP

Good morning from Augusta. There are 46 days until Election Day.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I feel like we’ve completed the cycle,” said Denise Rubin, who bought the Purple Heart awarded to Army Lt. Royce Gibson, who died just after D-Day in World War II, at a 2000 auction. The medal disappeared in 2006, but was recently found and given to Gibson’s family. “There was definitely a force at work here. It was meant to get back.” Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

More pollsters are diving into Maine this year due to the competitive U.S. Senate race and close presidential contest in the 2nd District. But three polls over the last eight days showed sharply different results in the U.S. Senate race, with House Speaker Sara Gideon, a Democrat, leading Sen. Susan Collins by one, 12 and five points, respectively. The last and latest one was released Friday by The New York Times and Siena College.

The best way to make sense of these varied polls is to not read too much into any single one of them but instead think about the polling average. The average of all polls maintained by FiveThirtyEight since the beginning of July gives Gideon an average lead of 4.3 percent. RealClearPolitics, which includes a smaller sample of pollsters with longer track records, gives the Democrat a lead of 6.2 percent. The gap in the Times poll is near there.

Though there have been some variations, the polling average in the race has remained relatively consistent this year, as Gideon has maintained a narrow lead despite twists in campaigning and a barrage of negative attacks from both sides.

New polling numbers are likely to continue flowing in as Maine remains in the national spotlight. Collins’ seat is one that both parties see as essential to control of the upper chamber, where Republicans currently have a three-seat advantage. The Maine senator also garnered unique national attention for her vote to confirm U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh two years ago.

Though the 2nd District harbors only one electoral vote, it is seen as the sort of swing district that could be a bellwether, as President Donald Trump was a surprise victor in 2016 after President Barack Obama won it twice. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat, won it in 2018. The latest poll showed Golden up solidly while Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, were virtually tied.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Feds allow Canadian loggers to threaten Maine jobs, Senate president says in complaint,” Josh Keefe, Bangor Daily News: “[The criticism from Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash] comes at a time when Maine’s forest products industry is struggling to overcome two simultaneous challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic, which has depressed demand for forest products globally, and the April explosion at the Pixelle Androscoggin Mill in Jay, which has decimated logging and trucking operations providing raw material to the mill.”

The complaint echoes the concerns that brought Jackson into politics. The Allagash senator got his start in politics when he joined a blockade on the Canadian border in 1998 to bring attention to the issue of Canadians encroaching on Maine jobs. He has focused on logging jobs and labor issues throughout his political career, often contending that both federal and state government does not do enough to protect workers. This week, he went so far as to say the state and federal labor departments “do not give a shit about this.”

— “Ad Watch: Susan Collins equates separate Sara Gideon votes from 2010 with defunding police,” Michael Shepherd, BDN: “[Collins’] campaign is framing votes taken by [Gideon] as a Freeport town councilor in 2010 as an example of defunding police. They were separate moves months apart to consolidate dispatch services and partially forgive a loan to a nonprofit.”

The dispute is mostly over money in the race from progressive groups aligned with Gideon who have gone further on this issue than the candidate. In a Friday debate, both Collins and Gideon said they do not support calls to “defund the police.” But Collins’ campaign has made an issue of a $4 million crowdfund that was co-organized by one group that has used the slogan and another that has pledged $2 million to organizing for Democrats here in 2020. That is the context for the Collins ad as the two war over record sums spent against each other.

— “Janet Mills accepts emergency Maine budget plan, will ask for more changes in January,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “An executive order included most of the items suggested by budget commissioner Kirsten Figueroa proposed last week to cover a $528 million revenue shortfall projected through mid-2021 due to the drop in tax revenue amid the pandemic. Next year’s regularly scheduled budget talks will consider how to fill an $800 million gap expected over the next two years.”

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.

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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...