In this Dec. 15, 2020, file photo, nurse Kayla Mitchell, left, of Maine Medical Center’s COVID ICU unit in Portland becomes the first person in the state to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: Derek Davis / Portland Press Herald via AP

Good morning and belated happy New Year from Augusta. There are four days until the governor reveals immediate and two-year spending proposals. Here’s your soundtrack.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “President [Donald] Trump’s efforts to pressure the Georgia Secretary of State into actual election fraud would make Richard Nixon blush. Let’s call this what it is: an overt, corrupt attempt to overturn the will of the voters,” Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said of the president’s request that Georgia officials find 11,780 votes to tip the state’s election in his favor.

What we’re watching today

Maine has vaccinated a bigger share of its population than almost any other state as it moves into another population due to an allocation shift. The state has vaccinated 2.45 percent of the population against the coronavirus so far and has used 62.2 percent of allocated doses, according to a Bloomberg News tracker. Only five other states are above Maine by the first measure and three by the second measure.

After first focusing on frontline health care workers and nursing home residents, Maine is now able to start inoculating health care professionals who do not immediately work in hospitals.  Those workers were always meant to be in the first wave of vaccinations, officials have said. 

But their inclusion this week was due, in part, to the state receiving more Pfizer vaccines and fewer Moderna doses than expected, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said. He told reporters last Thursday that Operation Warp Speed did not tell him the reason for the dose allocation change.

It shows how the types of vaccine available can influence the state’s plan. The state will be vaccinating independent health care professionals who are patients of larger health care systems first, Shah said, relying on those hospitals to find patients who qualify. The increased doses of Pfizer vaccines, which require ultra-cold storage and come in trays of 975 (Moderna comes in packs of 100), can mostly only go to bigger hospitals. That inherently limits how the state can distribute the vaccines.

There is still a long way to go until Maine can move into its next wave of vaccinations. Shah estimated that older Mainers and essential workers may be able to see vaccinations by February, depending on the number of doses the state receives.

The Maine politics top 3

— “COVID-19 could be the center of Maine lawmakers’ political fights this session,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “The bills run the gamut from addressing education and health care issues caused by the pandemic to altering tax usage and giving the Legislature more control during emergency situations. Several address racial justice and inequality issues brought to the forefront by the pandemic and protests against police brutality throughout the summer.” You can see all titles or look up which bills a senator or representative has submitted here.

Some Republican lawmakers plan to be at their desks on Tuesday as the pandemic changes the rollout of the Legislature. The legislative schedule this year is mostly bare in the first week of January at a time when the chambers would be holding some of their first floor sessions. Democratic presiding officers have not called those early sessions yet as they try to limit the number of full-chamber meetings, though committees will start to meet virtually soon. Some minority Republicans want a more rapid ramp-up. Rep. Shelley Rudnicki, R-Fairfield, said Monday that she and other lawmakers will be at their desks on Tuesday ready to work after pushing last month to begin working immediately.

— “The record spending in Maine’s 2020 Senate race could be a sign of things to come,” Jessica Piper, BDN: “That record fundraising, and the near-nonstop TV ads that came with it, reflected several factors unique to Maine and 2020. But it also came amid a national trend of more money in politics that could portend future competitive races here.”

The race was record-setting in Maine, with more than $200 million coming into Maine through the candidates and outside groups. That spending was influenced by some unique factors, but congressional races in general have become more nationalized and expensive over the last few decades. Nine of the 10 most expensive Senate races ever happened in 2020, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

— “Nancy Pelosi keeps speaker job despite Jared Golden’s defection,” Alan Fram, Associated Press: “[U.S. Rep. Jared] Golden, a second-term Democrat who also opposed Pelosi in 2018, was one of five Democrats to not vote for Pelosi, casting his vote for Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois. The speaker does not necessarily have to be a House member, though nobody outside the chamber has held the position.”

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews, Jessica Piper and Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.

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...