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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Hydro-Quebec’s campaign efforts are not aimed at influencing upcoming elections,” the company that has spent $6.2 million to affect the anti-corridor referendum told lawmakers in a letter. “Rather, we aim to provide facts to inform Mainers in consideration of a ballot question that would deny Maine the largest clean energy project in our region, as well as significant long-term benefits for the state.”
What we’re watching today
The president praised local Republicans and sprinkled in references to the states, but it was a mostly typical speech. President Donald Trump held a half-hour campaign “tele-rally” (a term that his private company applied to trademark, per The Washington Post) for supporters in Maine and New Hampshire on Thursday evening. It was only scantily localized, but built on the themes we saw when he visited Maine on a whirlwind June afternoon.
He opened by praising Republicans, including Dale Crafts, the nominee in Maine’s 2nd District and U.S. Senate nominee Corky Messner and congressional candidate Matt Mowers, both of New Hampshire. He said Crafts won “a rough race” and would see “a great victory” over Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat who led Crafts handily in a recent Colby College poll.
Trump also touted two recent moves on fisheries — his June move to open a national monument southeast of Cape Cod to commercial fishing (which is not regularly fished by Mainers and is under legal challenge) and an executive order last month aiming to extend tariff offsets to Maine lobstermen (which has not been implemented yet) — as if they were done deals.
His speech got attention for comments on his order last week revoking a President Barack Obama-era rule on low-income housing intended to lessen segregation, because minorities are most likely to be low-income renters. The Trump administration has called it “complicated, costly, and ineffective.” The president said the rule has been “a bad rule.”
Trump is looking to flip both Maine and New Hampshire this year after losing them in 2020 (aside from one electoral vote from the 2nd District), even though polls this week in both states showed him down big in both and he continues to lag former Vice President Joe Biden. It’s worth paying attention to see how he talks to voters here in the future while trying to claw back.
The Maine politics top 3
— “Trump suggestion to delay 2020 election dismissed on Thursday, including in Maine,” Michael Shepherd, BDN: “The Republican president has no power to delay the Nov. 3 presidential election. Elections are managed by states and federal law sets presidential elections on the first Tuesday of November in an 1845 law. It would require an act of Congress and there is little to no political will to do so.”
A former Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful endorsed the Green-sympathetic in the November election. Lawyer Bre Kidman, who eschewed contributions en route to a last-place finish in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary earlier this month, endorsed independent Lisa Savage instead of House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, in the race over Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican. Kidman was heavily critical of Gideon during the primary and highlighted Savage’s support of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Savage, a former Green, qualified for the ballot as an independent.
— “Janet Mills investing $1 million to address racial disparities in Maine coronavirus infections,” Charles Eichacker, BDN: “The funds will go directly to organizations that are run by people in those hard-hit communities, and it will expand a number of education and prevention efforts while increasing the eligibility for some coronavirus-related services, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.”
— “Maine doubles rent relief as evictions resume and unemployment benefits drop,” Eesha Pendharkar, BDN: “Eligible renters could qualify for up to $1,000 per month in rental relief, up from $500 previously. The Maine State Housing Authority is administering the relief program, and renters can apply for the increased funding starting Monday.”
The Senate left for the weekend Thursday evening without reaching a deal over unemployment and other coronavirus relief. Republicans seemed divided on the issues earlier this week, while a last-minute bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Susan Collins and two others to extend expanded unemployment benefits did not immediately go anywhere.
The White House indicated for the first time late Thursday that Trump might support extending unemployment benefits at the weekly $600 level, as a bill passed by the Democratic-led House would have done, but no legislation to do so came up. Other proposed forms of relief, including a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for hard-hit small businesses, additional stimulus checks and aid to municipalities facing budget crunches, will also have to wait.
Department of Education to release county risk levels
The Maine Department of Education is expected to release county-level risk levels on school reopening today. The agency will classify counties as green, yellow, or red, with schools in “green” counties allowed to reopen to students with a long list of health precautions, while schools “red” counties expected to do entirely online learning. Schools in “yellow” counties could adopt a hybrid model.
The majority of counties, including Penobscot County, are expected to be classified as green, though schools will likely end up with a mix of practices regardless because some parents do not want their students to return to in-person learning this fall. The state will also monitor classifications every two weeks and could update them throughout the fall based on changing conditions.
Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd and Jessica Piper. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, email firstname.lastname@example.org (we’re setting up a new subscriber page soon) to subscribe to it via email.