Senate candidates Lisa Savage, Max Linn, Sara Gideon and Susan Collins debate at Decision Maine in Portland on Sept. 11. Credit: Gabrielle Mannino / News Center Maine

Good morning from Augusta. There are 36 days until Election Day.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I believe that [Christina] Koch and [Jessica] Meir, by their sheer skill and execution, shift us closer to a template based on intelligence, agility, capability, integrity, courage and excellence,” wrote astronaut Mae Jemison about the historic trip to space that involved Meir, a Caribou native, who was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2020. Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

Maine’s U.S. Senate candidates will meet at 7 p.m. for their second debate this fall. The debate, hosted by WAGM, a CBS and Fox affiliate in Presque Isle, comes following a tumultuous week in the Senate race amid another Supreme Court controversy and less than a week before Maine begins early and absentee voting.

One topic of consideration is likely to be the court, on which Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, broke with her party last week in saying she would not confirm a nominee before the election, a decision that she acknowledged may anger conservative voters while liberals seem to have given her little credit. Meanwhile, her Democratic challenger, House Speaker Sara Gideon, has balked at plans floated by members of her own party to add justices to the court in response to Republicans’ rushed nominating process.

In the first debate — hosted by the Bangor Daily News, the Portland Press Herald and News Center Maine earlier this month — Collins and Gideon clashed on health care as well as Collins’ declining to say whether she supports President Donald Trump

Two independent candidates, Lisa Savage and Max Linn, made impressions that night in opposite ways, with Linn having a minor viral moment for refusing to answer a moderator’s questions while Savage’s calm performance was largely praised. Linn, however, outpolled her in a Colby College survey released last week. Tonight’s debate will also feature all four candidates.

Overall, polling has showed Gideon with a narrow lead throughout 2020, meaning Collins may continue to be on the offensive, as she was in the first debate when she challenged Gideon over whether the House speaker would have supported the 2005 confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts. The debate will air on WAGM at 7 p.m. and stream on the station’s website.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Some Maine jails didn’t require all to wear masks, even after York County outbreak grew,” Charles Eichacker and Matthew Stone, Bangor Daily News: “The inspections of Maine’s 14 other county jails showed that many of them were screening staff for fevers and other symptoms associated with COVID-19, sometimes with multiple temperature checks per shift. But many facilities did not ask their employees additional revealing questions, such as whether they had traveled to other states not exempted from Maine’s quarantine requirement or been in contact with anyone who tested positive for the disease.”

— “Janet Mills has avoided drastic budget steps during pandemic, but the task will get harder,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “Unlike some of her counterparts, Gov. Janet Mills has been able to avoid draining Maine’s rainy day fund or making large cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, but those steps may be on the table next year with other drawers being emptied.”

The rainy day fund is a politically charged one in Maine as Mills’ predecessor continues to loom over her tenure. Fifteen states have already dipped into their rainy day funds for pandemic-related expenses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Maine, the fund is doing just better than the national average as it sits slightly under a record high set under former Gov. Paul LePage. He is considering a 2022 run against Mills as Republicans stand against dipping further into reserves, though the Democratic governor plans to raid $70 million in a reserve fund stocked by overperforming liquor contracts early next year.

— “In Maine, Jill Biden calls 2020 election ‘too important’ to sit out,” Jessica Piper, BDN: “Two of President Donald Trump’s sons have visited Maine the past week, while the Republican president has given Maine outsized attention in recent months. Trump won the 2nd Congressional District in 2016, but [former Vice President Joe] Biden has narrowly led most polls there this year while holding a wider lead in Democratic-leaning Maine as a whole.”

The Democratic nominee’s campaign is out with its first ad buy targeting the 2nd District. Biden’s campaign was already out with TV ads in southern Maine, mostly targeting New Hampshire, but will begin running ads Tuesday in the Bangor area, according to Medium Buying. The launch coincides with the first presidential debate between Biden and Trump, which will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Jessica Piper 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

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...