Sen. Susan Collins listens as Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon responds to a question during the Decision Maine debate in Portland on Sept. 11. Credit: Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald

Good morning from Augusta. There are 18 days until the November election.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m very excited about it because it’s a very ambitious goal, a 30-year plan,” Galen Weibley, Presque Isle’s economic and community development director, said of a $5 million plan to revamp the city’s downtown. “The city’s never gone this far [into the future] with a plan.”

What we’re watching today

The third U.S. Senate debate was largely a replay of arguments candidates have been pushing for months. Sen. Susan Collins and House Speaker Sara Gideon clashed on a range of issues, while independent Lisa Savage again laid out a progressive agenda and Max Linn lived up to a pledge to avoid theatrical tactics that disrupted previous debates.

But most of the arguments between Collins and Gideon were not new, especially for Maine voters who have been subjected to relentless TV ads and mailers from the major-party candidates. Collins said Gideon backed a fuel tax; Gideon said that was not part of her climate change plan.

Collins argued that Gideon’s health care plan would harm rural hospitals; Gideon said she would support increasing reimbursement rates to ensure those hospitals got paid. She attacked Collins over a tax vote that has led to a lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act; Collins pointed out she had voted against a repeal of the law the same year.

Gideon suggested a new idea on depoliticizing the judiciary, then Trump hammered Collins for not supporting his pre-election high court nomination. The House speaker said she would support returning to the use of the filibuster for judicial nominees, which would require 60 votes in the Senate to approve any nominee. Democrats ditched it in 2013 for lower courts and Republicans did away with it for Supreme Court nominations in 2017.

The Democrat has previously been skeptical of other proposals to reform the courts, such as adding judges, as some members of her party have proposed. Bringing back the filibuster would ensure judges could not be confirmed without a consensus, but it could also risk few judges being confirmed at all if Republicans and Democrats could not reach an agreement.

On Friday morning, President Donald Trump hit Collins by tweet for being one of two Republican senators to not support his pre-election nomination of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett after Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama’s final pick in an election year. Trump said the Maine senator was “not worth the work.”

The Democrat’s campaign reported eye-popping fundraising numbers after the debate. Gideon raised $39.4 million over the past three months, according to a campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission shortly before midnight. Collins raised $8.3 million over the same period, a record sum for the incumbent senator, but less than a quarter of Gideon’s haul, which was second-largest among Democratic Senate candidates behind Jaime Harrison of South Carolina, who is challenging incumbent Lindsey Graham.

That means Gideon has plenty of resources for the final weeks of the campaign. A poll released Thursday again showed her leading Collins. The polling average since July has given her a lead of about 4.5 percentage points.

The Maine politics top 3

— “CMP parent says top competitor is illegally obstructing $1B corridor project,” Caitlin Andrews, Bangor Daily News: “The two companies [NextEra and Avangrid] drafted an agreement for the breaker upgrades earlier this year, according to the complaint. However, Avangrid alleges NextEra has made “unreasonable” demands in revised copies. They include holding Avangrid liable for all lost profits, revenues and penalties that NextEra would incur from the regional grid operator if it is unable to complete the upgrades.”

— “Jared Golden, Dale Crafts clash on health care, virus relief in 1st debate,” Andrews, BDN: “It means that the pressure is on [former state Rep. Dale] Crafts with less than three weeks until Election Day. He has aligned himself with President Donald Trump, who has endorsed him and won the district handily in 2016, while [incumbent U.S. Rep. Jared] Golden has gathered cross-party support in the district, with 22 percent of Republicans supporting him in a poll released Thursday.”

It appears the national party lacks confidence in Crafts’ ability to overcome those factors. The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund halved their $900,000 ad buy targeting Golden after the debate, according to a Politico reporter. It makes the spending gap in this race — already diminutive compared to the 2018 match-up between Golden and Bruce Poliquin — even smaller.

— “Brewer school board candidate was fired as a jail guard for sexual harassment,” Erin Rhoda, BDN: “[Troy] Richardson declined to comment publicly on his discipline, instead saying he would answer people’s questions directly if they asked. ‘I have no problem talking to anybody about anything, the people — not airing that in the Bangor Daily News,’ he said.”

In addition to being fired, Richardson was disciplined four times when he was a sergeant at the jail. He was written up for leaving a cart full of medication and needles unlocked, with the keys lying on top; for taking a day off without approval; and for being untruthful about a day that he skipped work, according to discipline records. In another instance, he showed “a serious lack of professional behavior toward another officer from another department” and a “lack of respect” toward his supervisor.

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.

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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...