U.S. Sen Susan Collins visits the U.S. Postal Service's Eastern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Hampden in this May file photo. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Good morning from Augusta. There are 78 days until Election Day.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The eyes of the world were definitely on Maine at that time, because if Maine could pull it off, that would have been a major victory,” said Portland historian Anne Gass, on Maine’s role as an early state where the fight for women’s right to vote played out. Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

The House of Representatives may be returning to Washington this week amid outrage over delays with the U.S. Postal Service. Both chambers of Congress are in recess this week, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, indicated over the weekend that she would call back members to bring in top postal official service officials to testify, as well as vote on legislation to fund the struggling agency.

The decision comes after officials warned that mail delays could interfere with absentee voting ahead of the November election. Maine was among the states warned at the end of July that absentee ballots could be delayed, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap confirmed Friday. For now, the postal service is encouraging voters to mail their ballots 15 days in advance of the Nov. 3 election. That would be a quick turnaround time for Maine voters, as absentee ballots are not sent until early October.

Whether concerns result in additional funding for the agency remains to be seen. A relief bill will likely sail through the Democratic-led House, and has the support of Reps. Chellie Pingree of the 1st District and Jared Golden of the 2nd District. But it will face a tougher climb in the Republican-held Senate, where Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is on a short list of Republican senators from rural states who have expressed support for additional funding.

The Senate has yet to show any sign that it will end its recess early. The upper chamber is currently set to return to Washington after Labor Day. Returning for a session could disrupt both parties’ national conventions — Democrats are holding their this week, followed by Republicans the week after that.

The Maine politics top 3

— “With Trump remaking federal courts, some say Janet Mills should do the same in Maine,” Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News: “[Gov. Janet] Mills is expected to choose a new chief justice later this year or early next year, and the Maine Legislature will consider the appointment as calls for criminal justice and policing reforms have intensified following a number of high-profile deaths of Black people at the hands of police.” 

— “Susan Collins and Sara Gideon are millionaires, financial disclosures show,” Jessica Piper, BDN: “Collins and her husband, Tom Daffron, a veteran political operative, disclosed a net worth between $2.3 and $6.9 million. [House Speaker Sara] Gideon and her husband, lawyer Ben Gideon, have a net worth between $1 million and $3.1 million.”

Two recent ads in the race between Collins and Gideon make leaps and demand more context. The Bangor Daily News began a regular fact-checking feature over the weekend, starting with one ad against Gideon and one against Collins. The first insinuates that Gideon’s “family” didn’t pay all taxes, when the taxes at issue were owed by a business co-managed by the Democratic candidate’s husband. In the second, a Democratic group seizes on the 2025 expiration of low- and middle-class tax cuts under provisions of the Republican tax bill backed by Collins, while ignoring that it lowered taxes for most Mainers for now.

— “Federal judge turns back 2nd Maine ranked-choice voting challenge in 2 years,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “U.S. District Court Judge Lance E. Walker ruled that setting aside the voting system would ‘undermine rather than safeguard the most relevant public interest,’ referring to people’s ability to use the method if they wish to do so.”

It was a busy day for Maine courts. A Friday conference between lawyers for four visually impaired voters, the secretary of state’s office and municipal clerks revealed the state is working on revamping its overseas voting system to make it accessible so those voters can participate in the November election safely and privately. A petition for release from two prisoners an elevated risk of catching the coronavirus was dismissed. It came a day after Maine’s high court effectively removed the anti-Central Maine Power corridor question from the November ballot.

Former US Senate hopeful may make legislative run

Parties have to pick new legislative candidates before the end of the month, and one race is Saco features some familiar names. Rep. Donna Bailey, D-Saco, announced she will run to replace Sen. Justin Chenette, D-Saco, after he said earlier this month that he would not run for re-election. It is up to local Democrats to pick who goes up for Bailey’s seat in the deeply Democratic district and two candidates have expressed interest — Saco city councilor Lynn Copeland, who has Chenette’s endorsement, and lawyer Bre Kidman, a progressive who got 6 percent of the statewide vote in the U.S. Senate primary last month. The party will hold a caucus on Saturday to pick its nominee.

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Michael Shepherd, Caitlin Andrews and Jessica Piper. 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 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...