The Portland Press Herald, Bangor Daily News and News Center Maine are teaming up to host a candidate debate in the closely watched U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Susan Collins, Democrat Sara Gideon and independents Lisa Savage and Max Linn.

The debate will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11 and will be broadcast live on News Center, the local NBC affiliate in Portland and Bangor, and streamed live on the Press Herald and Bangor Daily News websites.

Longtime News Center anchor Pat Callaghan will serve as moderator and reporters from both newspapers will question the candidates. Some questions will come from newspaper subscribers viewing on a digital video platform. Candidates also will have the chance to make closing statements.

“This is a critical election, and it’s more important than ever that voters hear directly from the candidates about their positions on important issues.” said Press Herald deputy managing editor Dieter Bradbury. “We’re pleased to team up with the Bangor Daily News and News Center to host this event.”

Added Dan MacLeod, Bangor Daily News managing editor: “In a time of intense media competition, we’re glad to partner with the Press Herald and News Center Maine to host a smart debate for this hugely important Senate race. We’re especially excited to work with our audience to ensure the questions and topics help them make an informed decision in November.”

“We are doing our level best to give Mainers enough clear information to make informed decisions,” News Center news director Mike Redding said. “This Senate debate will be an important part of that. And teaming up with the Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald means no one in this state could possibly miss this opportunity to be informed.”


Maine’s 2020 Senate race already has drawn national interest and is expected to be close and contentious. Both the Collins and Gideon campaigns – and various political action committees that support or oppose them – are spending record amounts of money on advertising and that’s likely to continue through the fall.

Republicans hold a six-seat advantage in the Senate, but Democrats are hopeful they can regain power and see Maine’s race as critical. Many other Republican senators who face re-election this year also are staring at closer-than-anticipated races and their fates could be tied to President Trump’s bid for a second term.

Recent polls have shown Gideon, Maine’s speaker of the House, with a narrow lead over Collins, who was first elected in 1996 and has been re-elected three times since.

In a poll of nearly 900 likely voters released last week by Colby College of Waterville, 44 percent of respondents favored Gideon, while 39 percent preferred Collins, with 12 percent undecided and 6 percent saying they planned to vote for another candidate. This week, a poll of 807 registered voters by Quinnipiac University of Connecticut showed Gideon with a 47 percent-43 percent advantage, with 6 percent undecided.

Neither poll listed the other candidates by name. Savage is a Green Independent and former school teacher hoping to offer progressives an alternative to Gideon. Linn, a Republican-turned-independent and retired financial planner, doesn’t believe Collins is conservative enough. Although Savage and Linn are considered long-shot candidates, they could have an impact because Maine will use ranked-choice voting.

Gideon, aided by national Democrats and progressive groups, has painted Collins as someone unwilling to stand up to President Trump or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and who no longer serves Mainers’ interests. Collins’ campaign has hammered Gideon for not working to bring the Maine Legislature back in session to address the pandemic, among other criticisms.

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