The November 2022 governor's race will pit Gov. Janet Mills against former Gov. Paul LePage. Credit: File / BDN

Good morning from Augusta. The Daily Brief is back. More below on our design changes.

What we’re watching today

It’s campaign finance deadline day in Maine. By midnight, we will get our first look at the books of former Gov. Paul LePage, whose July 1 campaign launch was timed to just avoid the last reporting deadline of 2021. He will look to post a big number to try to chip away at Gov. Janet Mills’ $500,000 head start, though the incumbent seemed to ramp up fundraising after LePage joined.

How much will LePage report in total money raised over the last five months of 2021? Send your guess to by noon and the reader with the closest estimate gets a shoutout in tomorrow’s newsletter.

Among the other things we are watching are the first real look at the finances of the groups on both sides of two referendums that came out of the political fight over Central Maine Power Co., even though neither of them look like candidates for the 2022 ballot.

Also, look for early momentum in top legislative races. Democrats spent huge as they cruised to victory in a special House election in Gorham and Scarborough last week. Given the positive national environment for Republicans at the moment, that may just be the beginning of a trend for the Democrats in control of Augusta.

What we’re reading

— An equal-rights constitutional amendment from Rep. Lois Reckitt, D-South Portland, may be broadened from its focus on gender rights to all classes protected from discrimination under Maine law in a bid to win Republican support. But the BDN’s Caitlin Andrews talked to House Republicans who are still opposed. That’s where problems lie for the bill to win the two-thirds majorities it needs.

— Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, will not run for reelection after just one term in the upper chamber. She’s going to law school and looks to be capitalizing on a reputation among national progressives as one of their ilk who can win in conservative areas. (Her area is pretty purple.)

— Political activist, attorney general battler and font enthusiast John Linnehan is leasing an old movie theater in Ellsworth, calling it “John Linnehan’s Constitution Hall” and pitching it as a gathering place for like-minded conservatives. His mission is to “remove every Democrat.” (He has failed in four bids to capture state and local offices in the area dating back to 2004.)

— Rail is a “growing business” (you read that right) for Maine’s potato industry, says one major grower who has been sending 10 cars per week out lately. The first voyage of late marked the first time in 40 years that Maine spuds left the state by rail. Most are going on a three-week trip to a processor in Washington state. Here’s your soundtrack.

Watch this space

We’re getting shorter and more useful entering a critical election year. The Daily Brief has been a staple of our politics coverage for seven years now. We have been taking a hiatus since November to figure out how to be most useful. You’ll see an earlier send time of 7 a.m., plus design changes in the next few days bringing us into the modern newsletter era and a breezier format focused on quick analysis of the day ahead. We also want to be more interactive with the community of thousands who get the newsletter every day. Reach out with feedback!

Follow along today

— At 9 a.m., the Legislature’s judiciary panel will begin a two-day slate of confirmation hearings on Mills’ nominations and renominations for judge slots. Rep. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship, told Caitlin he will attend the virtual meeting after a bout with COVID-19 alongside cancer, so expect some aggressive questioning from the criminal justice system critic. Watch here.

— 2 p.m. The health committee will be briefed by anthropologist Marcella Sorg and Maine Drug Enforcement Agency Director Roy McKinney on the spate of overdose deaths during the pandemic. Watch here.

The Daily Brief is written by Bangor Daily News politics editor Michael Shepherd and made possible by BDN subscribers. Enjoy unlimited access to all we have to offer by subscribing.

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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...