Mr. Empty Suit steps to the mic

“I’ve got plenty of great ideas.”

So said Republican Scott Milne during Saturday’s gubernatorial debate. His comment came after Governor Shumlin repeatedly slammed his failure to give “us one single plan” on a variety of issues.

And then Milne, predictably, failed to name any ideas.

Well, he did have one: a two-year cap on property taxes, which would put public school into a dire budget situation because many of their costs will continue to rise. It’d force spending cuts from the top down, the very opposite of his claim to be in favor of local decision-making. But hey, at least it was an idea.

Otherwise, nothing much. At another point he said “I’ve got two ideas.” The first was that the Governor had spent too much time out of state. Which is not an idea; it’s an attack.. The second was the property tax cap.

Sigh.

As I said in an earlier comment, Milne managed to exceed the minimal standard of competence, e.g. he didn’t poop his pants. Shows you how dismal his campaign has been, that keeping his shorts clean seems like an accomplishment.

As for actually putting forward an inspiring message, nope. Not at all. He hammered repeatedly on the same old attack lines he’s used since launching his campaign: Shumlin is “the most progressive, radical Governor” who insists on pursing single-payer health care. Milne’s idea for health care reform?

“I will be working very hard with people to get something figured out.”

That is, word for word, what Scott Milne actually said.

On trying to keep young people in Vermont, his only contribution was to assert that the Shumlin Administration “has not been business friendly,” and Vermont needs “a new tone” in its dealings with business. F-sharp, perhaps?

When asked about problems at the Agency for Human Services, he pivoted back to his attack on the troubled rollout of Vermont Health Connect, and cited it as an example of poor management. When he actually addressed AHS, he said we need an agency that “puts the family first.” How imaginative.

When asked about cutting state spending, he gave a halfhearted shoutout to the discredited Challenges for Change initiative, then said “I’m not into cutting,” and then said property taxes are too high.

Confused?

In his closing statement, Milne referenced his late mother Marion’s run for State House in 1994 when, as Milne tells it, a local politico gave her no chance to win. But she ran anyway and won. And so can Scott Milne, if people only believe. And he closed with a bombshell: “Vermont needs a different path. I believe it needs a more moderate path.”

Having, once again, failed to give any real hint of his preferred path for Vermont. It’s been defined almost entirely in the negative: He wouldn’t repeat the alleged mistakes of Governor Shumlin.

And, as I reported earlier, he’s postponed a meeting with VTDigger’s editorial board because his platform isn’t ready yet.

Scott MIlne’s campaign is very close to flat broke. Its campaign manager just resigned. The best you can say about Milne’s debate performance is that he didn’t flame out. But he did nothing to advance his campaign, to provide a substantive option to Shumlin. Or to Dan Feliciano, for that matter.

He did okay by his standards, but that’s not nearly good enough.

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