In this Sept. 11, 2020, file photo, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, left, and incumbent Sen. Susan Collins participate in a debate at the Holiday Inn By The Bay in Portland. Credit: Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald via AP

Good morning from Augusta. There is one week until the Nov. 3 election. Here’s your soundtrack.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We apologize that the sickness came to our church, and we apologize for the consequences that maybe the community is feeling,” Pastor Matthew Shaw said of the Brooks Pentecostal Church, asking for forgiveness after an outbreak in Waldo County traced to the space has grown to 60 people. Shaw said the apology was for those who stood in solidarity with the church, not those with an “agenda.”

What we’re watching today

Maine’s senior senator is back on the campaign trail after a key Senate vote with one week to go until Election Day. Sen. Susan Collins, returns to Maine after being the only Republican senator to vote against confirming Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett was confirmed on Monday with 52 votes, the fewest ever for a high-court justice.

The judiciary is certain to be a topic on the campaign trail for both Collins and her Democratic opponent, House Speaker Sara Gideon. Gideon has been critical of Collins’ judicial votes throughout the campaign, though both candidates opposed confirming a judge before Election Day. Collins made it clear that her objection to Barrett was on procedural grounds, declining to say what she thought of the nominee as a judge. Gideon has been critical of Barrett’s stances on abortion rights.

The pair will be in different parts of the state today. Collins will meet with supporters on a bus tour through Kittery and Wells in the morning and early afternoon, while Gideon is set to campaign this afternoon with Jill Biden, the wife of Democratic nominee Joe Biden, in the Bangor area.

Collins and Gideon will meet for one final debate hosted by WMTW tomorrow, without the presence of independent candidates Lisa Savage and Max Linn. Savage and Linn have protested their exclusion, filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission that is unlikely to lead anywhere.

The Maine politics top 3

— “White House touts benefits of Trump policies in Maine, but it may be too soon to gauge effects,” Lori Valigra, Bangor Daily News: “The four-page report from the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy promotes how Mainers are better off under the Trump administration and trade deals that it says will help legacy industries. But it is a political document and uses some questionable metrics. Economists wonder about the direct benefit to Maine or whether it is too soon to tell the results of certain actions.”

Presidential surrogates continue to visit Maine this week as the race in the 2nd Congressional District remains competitive. President Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., will be in the Bangor area on Thursday. A handful of other Trump surrogates, including South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, will make stops in Bangor and Gorham tomorrow.

— “Maine official negative for virus after notification of potential exposure at Mike Pence rally,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “A Penobscot County commissioner was told he may have had contact with someone with the coronavirus at a Hermon rally last week headlined by Vice President Mike Pence before news broke that members of the vice president’s staff had tested positive.”

— “Maine poll workers ‘tense’ as Election Day — and unprecedented flood of absentee ballots — approaches,” Fred Bever, Maine Public: “Maine poll workers on Tuesday can start processing an unprecedented deluge of absentee ballots that voters have mailed in or, in many cases, hand-delivered this month. The general mood among those responsible for getting all the votes counted by next Tuesday or soon after could be characterized as confident, but alert. And for some postal workers, state officials, municipal clerks and voters, it has been tense.”

Absentee ballots returns total nearly half of 2016 turnout

Nearly 370,000 Mainers have successfully cast their ballots. That accounts for more than a third of active registered voters and about 48 percent of 2016 turnout, according to Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office. Democrats continue to outnumber Republicans, accounting for about 52 percent of accepted ballots and 50 percent of the more than 458,000 overall requests.

Dunlap’s office and the U.S. Postal Service are advising voters planning to return ballots by mail to do so by today at the latest to ensure they arrive by Election Day. All ballots must be returned by the time polls close at 8 p.m. to be counted. You can also return ballots to your municipal office or put them in a drop box if your city or town has one.

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...