Sen. Susan Collins and Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon participate in the debate at the Holiday Inn By The Bay, Friday, Sept. 11, 2020 in Portland, Maine. Credit: Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

Good morning from Augusta. There are 39 days until Election Day.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “All we need is to flip one vote, and I think we can do it,” said Carrie Kutny, a faculty advisor to a group of Ellsworth High School students pushing to get sidewalks painted in LGBTQ colors in their town. “We’re going to keep trying.” Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

As political tensions rise, the top candidates in Maine’s high-stakes Senate race are resisting the more polarizing reactions of their parties. Concerns about how the Nov. 3 election would go have persisted throughout the summer, fueled by service delays from the U.S. Postal Service delaying results. Now, there is a Supreme Court seat in play after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week. Earlier this week, President Donald Trump did not commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and House Speaker Sara Gideon, her Democratic challenger, are largely looking to tamp down tension even as they target each other for stances on the judiciary and ties to party leadership.

Collins has broken with her party on seating a Trump nominee before the election and told reporters in Washington yesterday that she is certain a peaceful transition will occur if Trump loses. She looks likely to lose on the first count as Republicans seem to have the votes to confirm a justice without her.

Gideon said Thursday that she is not convinced packing the courts with Democratic picks would help solve the politicization of the courts, following the stance of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. While open to reforming the courts and ending the Senate filibuster, she said none of the proposals she has heard so far on the judiciary have suited her.

Collins is back in Maine on Friday with another poll showing her behind. The senator will tour Pleasant River Lumber this morning for her first public event in Maine since Ginsburg’s death. A new Colby College poll released Friday showed her four percentage points behind Gideon in what has been a mostly stable race in 2020 despite record sums spent in the race.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Jill Biden to campaign in Bangor and Blue Hill on Friday,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “Biden’s campaign is slowly beginning to ramp up in-person events during the coronavirus pandemic. Jill Biden was in New Hampshire last week for events with Doug Emhoff, the husband of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, the vice presidential nominee.”

Visits are focusing on the swing 2nd Congressional District. The Colby poll had Biden leading Trump by three percentage points in Maine’s 2nd District, a relatively conservative area that the president carried by 10 points in 2016. Donald Trump Jr. rallied conservatives in Holden on Wednesday and stopped in Auburn on Thursday, while Jill Biden’s visit will start with an economic event in Bangor and end with a visit with lobstermen in Blue Hill.

— “Maine’s high court to reconsider ruling allowing ranked-choice voting in presidential race,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “The court granted the Maine Republican Party’s request on Wednesday for an expedited hearing. It will take place next Friday, according to court documents. Republican petitioners said they are challenging the court’s decision over whether circulators need to be registered voters in the towns they reside in prior to beginning their work.”

— “‘They want to see change’ — How the Black Lives Matter Portland agenda is evolving,” Willis Ryder Arnold, Maine Public: “Black Lives Matter Portland was not directly involved in Wednesday’s protest, but is one group that helped plan events this summer. The group is now working on other ways to address systemic racism, like pressuring the city council directly to reduce its budget for policing and to invest more in health and human services.”

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd 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 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...