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Political Brew: Pandemic relief and the SCOTUS nomination

Where's the pandemic relief from Washington? Plus Collins on a SCOTUS vote, controversy over a legislative candidate, and the integrity of the election.

MAINE, USA — This week, Political Brew features former Republican state Senator Phil Harriman, and former candidate for governor and U.S. Senate Betsy Sweet.

Leadership in the U.S. Senate has made it clear that they will fast-track President Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. But there seems to be no such urgency about passing a new round of pandemic relief that states clamoring for.

"The fact that they could move swiftly on a Supreme Court nomination, but they couldn't seem to make any movement on a relief package says lots about their political priorities," says Sweet, "and not much about the priorities that we have, those of us trying to make it day to day in Maine and across the country."

Harriman notes that some on Congress, including Maine Rep. Jared Golden, are urging the House to craft a bill that can actually pass in the Senate.

He says "Maybe that's an indication that they're going to come together so there isn't a political fallout."

Sen. Susan Collins says she will not vote for the Supreme Court nominee if it is held before election day.

Harriman believes that's an indication that Collins "is willing to take the heat and make the call that she feels is right."

But to Sweet, it's a political calculation on Collins' part.

"She did this with (Justice Brett) Kavanaugh, she strung it out for a long time. I think the reality is that if they need her vote she will be there."

Sweet adds she wants Collins to use her seniority "to make sure that she gets her colleagues not to rush this through."

The Bangor Daily News reported this past week that Melanie Sachs, a Democratic House candidate in Freeport, fostered a "hostile" and "abusive" workplace at a sexual assault agency. This was based on interviews with seven former employees at the agency.
The Maine GOP is demanding that Sara Gideon, the Speaker of the House and a U-S Senate candidate, call on Sachs to drop out of the race.

But Republican Phil Harriman says "it's not Sara Gideon's role to call that winner or loser... It's up to the voters of Freeport to decide who's going to represent them."

And Betsy Sweet calls this "a cheap shot by the Republicans."

She says trying to make this about Gideon shows that Republicans "are nervous about the Senate race because it's so close."

President Trump continues raising doubts about the integrity of the upcoming election. He has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses on Nov. 3.

Sweet thinks this is more than just another distraction by the president, saying "It is his disdain for democracy that is just extraordinary. I think it's a very serious issue that we should all be paying a lot of attention to."

And Harriman says he's disappointed to hear the president cast doubt on election results.

"I think it's up to all of us as citizens to make sure that this election is fair and open and the results are clear."

Phil Harriman appears on the weekly podcast "Agree to Disagree" on newscentermaine.com.

Political Brew airs Sundays on The Morning Report.