Coronavirus Strikes the White House and Capitol Hill

The Big Story: It was a week that saw a blockbuster New York Times report, which obtained many years of Donald Trump’s tax returns. It showed Trump has piled up enormous businesses losses, has avoided paying federal income taxes for years, and has personally guaranteed loans of about $400 million to entities or persons unknown. At the first presidential debate Trump badgered, interrupted, and bullied his way through a painful hour and a half, a performance polls show repelled more than 60% of voters. And, yet, every outrage was quickly moved off the front pages by the next one until the President’s Covid diagnosis and hospitalization at Walter Reed Medical Center dominated the news along with the positive diagnoses of three Republican Senators. It is still unclear how this will impact the Maine Senate race.

In other news:

News coverage of the impact of President Trump’s trade policies on America’s farmers typically focuses on the heartland, perhaps because many farm states such as Wisconsin and Iowa are more likely than others to play an important role in the outcome of the election. But the damage to the farm economy extends well beyond the farm belt. Spencer Aitel, a Maine dairy farmer, told The Maine Compass that he’s been hit hard by Trump’s  trade policies. 

“When Donald Trump ran for president four years ago, he came to Bangor and promised Mainers like me that he would deliver the greatest trade deals in American history. As a dairy farmer whose livelihood depends in part on exports to China and other countries, that sounded quite promising. . . [But] after his reckless trade war and failed attempts to paper over the damage, Donald Trump has caused irreparable harm to American agriculture. He promised better trade deals, but instead, he got played by China. Through his reckless trade policy, Trump has milked dairy farms dry.” (The Maine Compass, October 1, 2020.)

A day after Donald Trump’s widely panned debate performance, Senator Susan Collins blamed “both sides” for the debacle. Collins said the first presidential debate (and possibly the last) was “the least educational debate of any presidential debate I’ve ever seen. Asked who was responsible for that, Collins opined, “I think there was fault on both sides.” (The American Independent, September 30, 2020.) Others, most notably moderator Chris Wallace of FOX News, pinned the blame squarely on Donald Trump for refusing to adhere to agreed upon rules and refusing all entreaties to cease interrupting.

“A Hawaii-based defense contractor with…fundraising ties to Sen. Susan Collins has been charged with bank fraud after receiving a $12.8 million loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, a policy that Collins had a role in designing,” according to The Maine Beacon. “Martin Kao, CEO of the Martin Defense Group, formerly called Navatek LLC, allegedly lied about the number of people employed by the company in its Bangor and Portland offices and personally pocketed $2 million of the fraudulently-obtained seven-figure loan.” (The Maine Beacon, October 1, 2020.

The most recent polling data aggregated by FiveThirty Eight shows Sara Gideon leading Susan Collins by between four and eight points, and Jared Golden with a whopping 23 point lead in Maine’s second congressional district. Biden leads Trump statewide, according to a Colby College poll, by 11 points, with a more modest three point lead in the Second Congressional District. That’s important because of Maine system for apportioning presidential electoral votes in which the winner of the vote in each congressional district gets one electoral vote, making Maine only one of two states without a “winner take all” system (the other is Nebraska where Joe Biden has a solid lead in that state’s second congressional district).