Before the election, when Scott Milne was sure he was going to lose, he was fully prepared to resume his humble life as a travel mogul and disgruntled developer. Indeed, his official schedule, as posted by his campaign last weekend, had him in travel industry-related meetings yesterday and today.
But now that he came sooooo close, he’s starting to act like Gollum chasing after the Ring. He’s digging for any possible justification to not only avoid conceding, but to grab the governorship in spite of historical precedent.
I’m not saying he should give up. Not yet. He is well within his rights to delay conceding for now. We can wait until next Wednesday, when the vote will be certified. After that, if the margin remains under two percentage points, he should call for a recount if he wants.
After that, he needs to stop. He should concede gracefully and get on with his life, content in the knowledge that he followed his own path and far exceeded anyone’s expectations. He has no business twisting logic and Vermont history to justify an attempt to usurp the process.
Since he still hasn’t publicly addressed the voters he claims to care so deeply about, all we have is a statement from his campaign:
“It’s clear that 54% of Vermonters want a new Governor, and a new path forward” according to Scott Milne, after reviewing preliminary numbers in what appears to be the closest race in Vermont history.
Yeah, well, as I’m not the first to point out, 55% of Vermonters didn’t want Scott Milne to be their Governor, so that dog won’t hunt. What else ya got?
“We are gathering information for the requirements of a recount and weighing whether that is in the best interest of the people of Vermont, and we are looking closely at the legislative districts across the state on a district by district basis to determine which candidate won the most counties and legislative districts” said Milne.
Oh, so now you’re makin’ shit up.
There’s nothing in the state constitution that tells lawmakers how to elect a governo, when that task befalls them. But more than a century and a half of precedent says the individual with the most votes is chosen governor.
To illustrate how much precedent there is, the last time it was flouted, the Whig Party was involved. And our Statehouse had yet to be built.
Not to mention that it was a pure case of political chicanery, in which two lesser parties struck a deal to screw the first-place finisher (the Whig, as it happens). So I don’t think Milne wants to invoke that as a precedent.
No, he has the 1976 contest for Lieutenant Governor in mind.
Lawmakers last bucked a plurality vote in 1976 – in the Lt. Governor’s race – like now, the plurality winner- John Alden- faced confirmation by a House and Senate controlled by his own party.
“If we move forward, I expect Peter Shumlin has a good likelihood of facing the same fate as John Alden, and I will be Vermont’s next Governor” according to Milne.
What Milne conveniently omits is that Alden was facing legal trouble at the time. Shortly after his non-election, he was indicted on fraud charges and later convicted. It’s believed that enough people in the Legislature knew about it, that the vote went against him to avoid a huge embarrassment. (And I do hope that when Milne says he expects Shumlin to face “the same fate as John Alden,” he doesn’t mean criminal conviction.)
So that’s not a convincing rationale either. Not to mention, there’s a hell of a big difference between electing a Lieutenant Governor and electing a Governor, with all due respect to buckets of warm spit.
There’s also the inconvenient fact that before the election, Milne said that “he would concede the race if Shumlin won a plurality, and hoped Shumlin would do the same if the situation were reversed.”
Now, he says that wasn’t a statement of his position, it was a “challenge” to Shumlin to follow the will of the voters. And since Shumlin didn’t embrace his “challenge,” then Milne gets to take it back.
To be fair to Milne, he’s just kinda spitballing at this point, which is consistent with his behavior during the campaign. He hasn’t actually taken any of the actions he’s threatening to take. Indeed, his bottom line is that he will wait until the election is certified next Wednesday and then decide on his next move.
At that point, if he’s still in second place, he should do the right thing and concede. As his running mate, Phil Scott, said today:
— Neal P. Goswami (@nealgoswami) November 7, 2014