So the news broke on Labor Day: Phil Scott announces that he will announce he plans to announce a run for governor.
It’s more than a year till Election Day, and we’ve already got extremely competitive races on both the Democratic and Republican sides. Pop quiz for Vermont history buffs: when was the last time that happened? If it ever has?
And I do have a prediction. Not on the winner; aside from Scott wiping the floor with Bruce Lisman in the GOP primary, it’s way too early to pick winners. But I can say, without much trepidation, that this will be the most expensive campaign for a state elected office in Vermont history.
Heck, there may be more money spent in the primaries alone than in any previous full campaign.
So far, we’ve got two very credible candidates in each major party. One has a Wall Street fortune to draw upon, and the proven willingness to write big checks to influence policy; the other three have deep and strong connections amongst the donor class. Upon announcing his candidacy, Matt Dunne disclosed that his proto-campaign had already raised over $200,000. Phil Scott told WPTZ today that he’s got $150,000 in the bank, presumably including the nearly $100K saved up from his runs for Lieutenant Governor.
As for the only candidate I haven’t named yet, I think it’s safe to say that Shap Smith knows where the money is and how to get it. (I see where he paid a visit to Bennington last week and picked up an endorsement from the powerful Sen. Dick Sears. Nice.)
And then there’s Sue Minter. Between her service to the Shumlin administration and her potential presence as the only woman in the race, she’d do perfectly fine in fundraising and organization-buliding. (If, that is, she decides to run. Given the competition, I wouldn’t blame her if she opted out.)
I’d call it an embarrassment of riches, but politicians seldom get embarrassed over money.
So the 2016 gubernatorial campaign will shatter all records for money in Vermont politics. We’re also likely to have a very competitive race for Lt. Gov., and we’ll probably see a healthy dose of outside money in support of Vermont Republicans, as we saw in 2014 House and Senate races.
Sad to say, 2016 is likely to set a new standard for Vermont politics. Longer campaigns, and more expensive ones.
Hey, remember when the legislature rejected a proposal to require more frequent campaign finance reports in off-years? They might want to rethink that. With four people already running for governor, there is no such thing as an off-year anymore.