Good morning from Augusta. There are 28 days until the November election, which the Bangor Daily News will be discussing with municipal clerks and readers in a virtual event at 5 p.m. today. You can register for that event here.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You can’t do it with just any chicken,” Maine guide Dan Pelletier said about taking Georgia the Ameraucana chicken with him on river guiding trips. “This one is pretty well socialized and likes people. She just hangs out. She wasn’t stressed out there or anything like that.” Here’s your soundtrack.
What we’re watching today
The referendum on the Central Maine Power corridor is not on the ballots this fall, but the influence operation continues with a focus on skeptical candidates. A ballot question to undo a permitting rule allowing the construction of the $1 proposed hydropower corridor from Canada through western Maine was ruled unconstitutional by Maine’s high court earlier this year. Groups that were prepared to campaign on the referendum have not given up as the corridor seems primed to continue as a divisive political issue.
Two groups supportive of the corridor, Clean Energy Matters and Hydro-Quebec — respectively affiliated with CMP and the Canadian company that would supply the hydropower — continued spending after the question was off the ballot, according to campaign filings due on Monday.
The CMP-linked group and Hydro-Quebec spent a record $20.6 million on the campaign as of September’s end, with some of that coming after the 2020 anti-corridor question was struck from the ballot. It included a $489,000 advertising purchase and a pricey round of polling in late August.
But legislators seem overwhelmingly opposed to the project despite support from the current and former governor. A wide majority of candidates who responded to the Bangor Daily News’ candidate survey said they were opposed to the project, suggesting the utility will find a less-friendly environment in Augusta next year after Gov. Janet Mills used her veto pen to the project from bills aimed at the project that carried only narrow majority support.
The issue does not fall clearly along partisan lines. Mills, a Democrat, and former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, support it. Proponents argue it would lower energy prices, bring jobs to Maine and accelerate clean energy uptake in New England, while opponents worry about the environmental effects and say benefits will mostly go to consumers in Massachusetts.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Many rush to cast ballots as early absentee voting begins in Maine,” Charles Eichacker and Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “The state has been encouraging people to mail or drop their ballots off as early as possible to avoid any issues with ballots or delays in results. Maine does not accept ballots postmarked after Election Day, one of the main reasons why a ballot may be rejected. The state extended the deadline for voter registration and gave clerks more time to process ballots in 2020.”
— “Susan Collins and Sara Gideon call for independent judges, but their definitions differ,’ Jessica Piper, BDN: “[U.S. Sen. Susan] Collins broke with Trump and her party to oppose any Supreme Court nomination prior to the election after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a decision she has said may anger some of her more conservative supporters. [House Speaker Sara] Gideon agrees, but she has largely made her electoral case around ousting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, who holds the key to nominations.”
— “Maine hospitality industry expects $1B revenue loss in 2020 as virus ends growth run,” Lori Valigra, BDN: “The 2020 analysis by University of Maine economists Todd Gabe and Andrew Crawley forecasted that revenues including multiplier effects for industries benefiting from the hospitality sector will be $5.2 billion, down $1.7 billion from 2019. The industry will provide 51,000 full- and part-time jobs, a loss of more than 28,000 from 2019. This new information ends a string of 12 straight years of record growth.”
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 email@example.com (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.
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