This panel of file photos show U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in 2017, left, and state Rep. Jared Golden in 2018, right, in Maine. Golden will challenge Poliquin for the 2nd District Congressional seat in the November 2018 general election. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

Good morning from Augusta. Assistant House Majority Leader Jared Golden has fundraising momentum in his race with U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd District, whom he outraised by more than seven times over the first 17 days of October.

The toss-up race is the hottest one in Maine in 2018, seeing one of the highest shares of TV advertising of all U.S. House of Representatives races in the nation as Democrats prioritize knocking off Poliquin and seizing the chamber majority from Republicans.

Modeling from FiveThirtyEight shows a race that could be tilting toward the Democrat. President Donald Trump weighed in on Thursday by tweet-endorsing Poliquin — a notable step, since Poliquin never publicly endorsed Trump ahead of their 2016 victories in the 2nd District.

Poliquin has been outspent by his opponent before but not by this much. Golden is harnessing lots of Democratic fundraising momentum in his bid this cycle. Poliquin was handily leading the money race until September’s end, when Golden stormed ahead in the overall money race behind a wave of individual donations.

He raised nearly $4.7 million overall as of Oct. 17, with $736,000 of that arriving within the month of October. Poliquin has gotten just over $3.9 million overall with less than $99,000 during that latest period. Poliquin did have $289,000 more left on hand, however.

Both have broken the fundraising records that Poliquin and two-time Democratic opponent Emily Cain set in 2014 and again in 2016. Poliquin was outspent by Cain and outside groups in each of those challenges. That’s probably going to happen again this year on a wider scale.

Nearly $9.7 million in outside money has already been spent on the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Golden has benefited from more than $5.4 million of it, while conservative groups have committed $4.3 million to Poliquin, a similar outside spending gap to the one Poliquin faced against Cain in 2014.

But Golden’s bigger war chest will help him exploit that gap on the airwaves through Election Day as more money flows into the race between now and then.

The race may be tilting toward Golden, but Poliquin still has a solid chance of winning by the same metrics. FiveThirtyEight’s three models for predicting House races give Golden somewhere between a 53.5 percent chance of winning and a 61.8 percent chance as things stand now. So, the hopeful scenario for Democrats is Poliquin around a 38 percent chance.

In Game 3 of the World Series tonight, the Boston Red Sox have a 40.9 percent chance of going up 3-0 on the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to Fangraphs. As a Sox fan, I wouldn’t lay money on it, but I’m still hopeful. Don’t blow any edge by these metrics out of proportion.

Maine GOP hits Mills on plea deal

Alleged victims were angered when a former Maine sheriff’s deputy avoided jail time, but a jury acquitted him of two charges and was deadlocked on 20 others. The attack ad on Attorney General Janet Mills, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, was released today by the Maine Republican Party and focuses on the case of Kenneth Hatch, a former Lincoln County sheriff’s deputy who was accused of sexual crimes against three teenagers, including some in his cruiser.

Mills’ office prosecuted the case against Hatch, whom a jury in November found not guilty on two counts of sexual abuse of a minor and furnishing marijuana to a minor. The jury deadlocked on another 20 charges against Hatch and a mistrial was declared.

In January, the sides struck a deal dismissing those 20 charges in exchange for a guilty plea on one misdemeanor. Mills’ office asked for a 10-day jail sentence, but Justice William Stokes said it wasn’t an option and assessed a $1,000 fine.

This angered the alleged victims, one of whom said the deal shows that “a police officer can touch a child for his own sexual gratification and get away from it.” But Stokes said the jury in the original case had been “excellent” and another trial would have been “very difficult.”

Mills released a statement at the time that said “we believe” the alleged victims and “only regret that the jury did not convict Mr. Hatch and that significant legal issues prevented a retrial.”

Reading list

— How would Maine’s next governor manage the state’s economy? Each of the four candidates has released an economic blueprint. Most are long on rhetoric and short on specifics. Republican Shawn Moody rolled out his mostly thematic four-page plan on Thursday. For businesses, he would reduce “red tape” and give them one point of contact to negotiate interdepartmental concerns. He also wants to institute performance measures to ensure that public money is used effectively. Mills’ plan is tailored to her goals for the first year in office. It is more targeted than Moody’s outline, though it relies heavily on new grant and loan programs with government streamlining efforts mixed in. Independent Terry Hayes offers few details, other than that she would emphasize building consensus. Independent Alan Caron, who said he will decide whether to drop out of the race after Sunday’s debate, drafted a far more ambitious plan, but his longshot status makes it more an intellectual exercise than a blueprint for the next governor.

— The independent in Maine’s 1st Congressional District race has asked for an investigation of the Republican. State Rep. Marty Grohman on Thursday called for multiple state regulatory agencies to investigate whether Republican Mark Holbrook falsely portrayed himself as a psychologist in violation of Maine law. Grohman, a former Democrat, filed requests with the Maine attorney general’s office, the Cumberland County District Attorney’s office, the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, and the state psychologist licensing board that Holbrook be investigated for publicly misrepresenting himself as a psychologist. The two are running to unseat five-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, in a race complicated by ranked-choice voting. Grohman, a former Democrat, is seeking to use the method to overtake Holbrook among Republicans and knock off the five-term incumbent. Holbrook responded by calling Grohman a “smarmy, loathsome politician.”

— Some Mainers are still confused by ranked-choice voting. Mainers will receive ranked ballots for congressional elections but not for state, county and local races this year. That has caused confusion for some voters, according to municipal election officials and canvassers for advocacy groups. State election officials continue to try to educate the public about ranked ballots and about the two different voting methods they will use for this year’s general election. Click here for a primer on ranked-choice voting, which will apply in U.S. House and U.S. Senate elections on Nov. 6.

Holy hanging chads, Batman

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap released results of student mock elections earlier this week. Republican Shawn Moody topped the gubernatorial ticket among the “too young to vote” crowd, while congressional incumbents led their races.

To help students grasp the intricacies of ranked-choice voting, Dunlap and his crack team of election aficionados had students use the ranking system to vote for their favorite DC superhero.

Batman won, we are told.

But which Batman?!?

A far more interesting ballot question would be to rank your favorite Batman. Would it be the brooding Christian Bale character of the “Dark Knight” series? Or the monosyllabic Michael Keaton — who gave a much better winged performance as Birdman, in my opinion — from the 1989 Tim Burton film?

As for George Clooney, it seems a waste to hide that beautiful mug behind a mask. And don’t get me started on Ben Affleck. It’s been all downhill for Ben since “Chasing Amy.”

It’s probably a “first love, best love” scenario for me, but I remain partial to Adam West, the quippy, campy caped crusader from the 1960s television series. Although Will Arnett’s egocentric mix of snark and earnestness as Lego Batman ranks a close second. Here is your soundtrack. — Robert Long

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Alex Acquisto and Robert Long. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, click here to receive Maine’s leading newsletter on state politics via email on weekday mornings. Click here to subscribe to the BDN.

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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...