Confusing little presser the Republicans held at the Statehouse Friday. Confusing in a couple of fundamental ways. They’re already well on their way to a fatal overdose of hubris; they’re toying with an ill-considered attempt to grab the governorship, or at least undercut Peter Shumlin; and they still don’t know what the hell to do with Scott Milne.
I wasn’t there, but I’ve been told that Milne was actually in attendance, but wasn’t invited to speak.* Indeed, even as they slapped each others’ backs over a relative handful of legislative victories, they “didn’t mention Milne until prompted by reporters,” according to VTDigger’s Laura Krantz.
*Note: Per the Comments below, multiple attendees say that Milne was not present. I’ll accept their word for it.
They “didn’t mention Milne,” the man who might still become their leader, not to mention the state’s.
What… the… hell.
Also, even as they were ignoring the Miracle Man, they were boldly announcing their plans for legislation to dump Vermont Health Connect.
(Let me just pause and note what a Boehnerian idea that is: promising a bill to kill a Democratic reform, a bill they know will never pass, just for the sake of some political posturing.)
Uh, fellows, d’ya think maybe it’d be a good idea if you’d, oh, consult Scott Milne before you make your big plans? Especially since some of you, at least, are going to do what you can to overthrow historical precedent and install him as our next governor?
Presumably, if legislative Republicans get their way, it ought to be Scott Milne setting the agenda, not them. But what do I know.
In fact, according to Seven Days’ Mark Davis, there’s been virtually no communication between Milne and top Republicans since Tuesday. Or before Tuesday, either, since they gave him damn little help during the campaign, believing (like everybody else) that he was a radioactive loser.
As for overthrowing historical precedent, take a bow, top House Republican Don Turner and top Senate Republican Joe Benning. Both of them indicated that they would vote for Milne if the race goes to the legislature, in spite of 161 years of precedent that says the legislature always installs the top vote-getter, whether it’s a Republican (Jim Douglas, 2002) or a Democrat (Peter Shumlin, 2010).
And as I wrote earlier, the last time the #2 vote-getter was installed as governor, it was the result of a dirty backroom political deal between the #2 and #3 parties to take down #1. Kinda like if the Democrats and Progressives united to block a Republican who’d won a plurality. So I don’t think the stolen election of 1853 is the kind of precedent anyone should want to emulate.
While we’re on the subject, Mr. Turner: when the governorship was decided by the legislature in 2010, did you vote for Peter Shumlin? If so, you are a hypocrite and an opportunist.
On the other hand, there was the current top Republican officeholder in the state, Phil Scott, saying that he’d obey precedent and vote for Shumlin if he had to choose. Leadership, boys.
Milne and Turner and Benning have devised a new interpretation of the legislature’s role, by saying that each lawmaker should follow the electoral results in his or her district. Which is a brand-new idea that happens to coincide with their own short-term interests. Statesmanship, boys.
Tuesday was the first taste of victory the Republicans have enjoyed in quite a long time. It’s been more than a decade since they gained seats in the legislature, and six since they won the governorship. This sudden burst of success must be terribly disorienting. It’s obviously gone to their heads, and not in a good way.
Hopefully they can regain their balance and learn to use their hard-won scraps of political power in a positive way.