The cat came back

Hey, remember when Peter Galbraith gave up his bought-and-paid-for State Senate seat last year, to pursue a loftier cause?

The Townshend Democrat said his growing involvement in an informal effort to find a political solution to the Syrian civil war won’t allow him to continue serving as a state senator.

Well, that noble sentiment appears to be inoperative. Or so reports the (paywalled) Vermont Press Bureau:

Will former Windham County Sen. Peter Galbraith join the crowd of candidates hoping to succeed Gov. Peter Shumlin? It seems more and more likely. Galbraith has not returned calls regarding that inquiry, but sources say he is actively considering it.

GalbraithOh, good Lord. Longtime readers know how I feel about Galbraith; he spent $50,000 of his oil fortune to grab an open Senate seat in 2010, and quickly made himself a hated figure in the Statehouse because of his immense self-regard (even by Senate standards!) and his habit of loudly promoting his own ideas. Made you wonder how he ever made a living as a “diplomat.”

Well, apparently his ego is getting in the way of his peacemaking impulses. The people of Syria will just have to wait, while he ponders a vanity candidacy for governor.

The VPB reports that Galbraith “would likely attempt to run to the left of the candidates who have already announced.” Which, hmm. He didn’t seem particularly left-of-center during his Senate days. His record could best be characterized as inconsistent and self-serving. I don’t recall much of a philosophical thread; it had more of a “whatever popped into his head” vibe.

I have profoundly mixed feelings about a Galbraith candidacy. On the one hand, it’d be good for a whole lot of unintentional humor. He’d be the Democratic counterpart to Bruce Lisman: an ego-driven rich man who believes he is uniquely qualified to govern the state due to personal qualities largely invisible to others.

On the other hand, Galbraith could do a lot of mischief, especially if he poured his oil fortune into a campaign. He could force the other Dems to spend even more money in the primary, leaving the winner weakened for the general election. He would also bang the drum loudly for the anti-renewable cause, and those people already get more than their share of publicity, thanks very much.

On balance, I’d gladly sacrifice the comedic potential if Peter Galbraith would just go away, as he promised to do in 2014. He is a self-funded loose cannon; you never know when or where it’s going to fire, you only know it’s going to be loud and destructive.

5 thoughts on “The cat came back

  1. Faith Biggs King

    Well, I read this earlier and was mulling-over a response, now I read your funny as hell comments on listening to the Jim n’ Phil Show and, well, that helped. Thanks! Respectfully, regarding Mr. Galbraith, I must demur. A few years ago, I read somebody (either in the Times/Argus or the Free Press) tooling-away merrily on Peter Galbraith’s ‘Clear Personal Failings And Excessive Ego’. John Campbell was quoted repeatedly, I think, hrumphing and whining about how That Mr. Galbraith just didn’t understand The Way We Do Things In Vermont. Followed by a reverential pause. What came to mind for me was Sinclair Lewis’s “Main Street”. I read Main Street ages ago (in Minnesota, coincidentally) and what remained stamped on my mind was the image of creative, free-thinking, progressive Carol Milford getting savaged by a local group of petty, mean women (aka The Power Brokers) for her ‘big ideas’ …that they didn’t need, thank you very much. Now I’ll grant you, Carol Milford Kennicott and Galbraith don’t have a lot in common, but the nasty, jealous, we-won’t-change and we-don’t-need-your-kind attitude seems remarkably on point when reading the fulminating about the supposed pig-headed arrogance of Galbraith. Harvard, Oxford and Georgetown Law? Not UVM, buy hey, purty good schools I’ve heard. Yeah, maybe Galbraith is a tad big-headed because, well, he is in fact a heck of a lot smarter than the other boys on the playground. Or in the Statehouse. And, yeah, he’s done some “stuff”, like, oh you know, reporting on genocide and negotiating peace agreements. Good god, Is that a big deal? Of course it is. And no, most of us jamokes haven’t done quite that much in our lives. He obviously pissed off the Leg. Uh-huh. Apparently he questioned nice, small-state traditions like handing money over to IBM or allowing Jay Peak’s owners to kill environmental protection legislation. Gotta’ say, after reading your accurate appraisal of Phil Scott and Nice Jim…we could use a little more brain-wattage here. It couldn’t hurt. Really. It might even help. Even if Galbraith is a pain in the ass.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      If you’ve been reading me for very long, you’ll know I have no patience for the stagnatin’ stylings of John Campbell or for the self-regard of many lawmakers. No, my animus toward Peter Galbraith is born of my own observations of the man, frequently derailing legislative debates on obscure points that seemed only to matter to him. He almost managed to single-handedly derail the death with dignity bill; thanks to his shenanigans, the Legislature had to revisit the issue this year, to no one’s benefit. If he presented a Plan B for health care reform, he also did tremendous damage to Plan A with his frequent fulminations against the administration. I have seen him get very angry over perceived slights. I have seen him accomplish little. In my opinion, his departure from the Senate was addition by subtraction, as a very capable and independent-thinking Becca Balint took his seat. He was an annoyance as a Senator; he would be disastrous as Governor.

      1. Dave Katz

        I’m reminded of the old chestnut about women being “b*tches” while men are “assertive”. “Derailing” as opposed to “offering counterpoints that may be worthy of consideration”? “Thin-skinned,” as opposed to “blissfully unaware of appearing venal, opportunistic and wafting of corruption”, cf Mr. Campbell’s shiny new part-time job?

        No particular brief for or against ex-state senator Brainiac Galbraith; I’ve just been longing for some time to hear more bold vision articulated, game-changing points of view being given serious consideration, and a change from the evergreen Vermont exceptionalist, status-quo enforcement, preening that seems to always be showing up on the legislative table.

        In re: who’d actually make a good guv, well, Shumlin’s resume certainly looked entirely presentable, though his childish, black-faced rage toward Mr. Pollina and the Progs in ’08, purposely splitting the liberal ticket and guaranteeing the waltz of ZombieJim back into office– was probably more the measure of the man; Shum the bum has always been consumed by his own ambition and is fully aware that no one here dares be so impolite as to say that to his face.
        Guess we’ll never know what kind of governor Pollina might have made; choosing rather to let Emily Post stylemeister gatekeepers make the call, rather than Clio, Muse of History.

  2. David Schoales

    You might point out that one of those cannon balls was to develop a Plan B for health care reform, and another was to change the net metering legislation to enable multiple municipalities and school districts to collectively contract to purchase electricity from larger,more efficient and better sited arrays like the Windham County landfill.

  3. newzjunqie

    I would suggest anyone who hasn’t had their fill of Mr Gailbraith hasn’t followed his legendary crazy during his tenure in the statehouse which is simply far beyong the pale. As GMD frontpager Jack McCullough would say “If you’re not outraged you ‘re not paying attention”. Funny, finding that phrase in thought bubble more than any other for quite a while.

    He was chased out with cold shouldering and studious avoidance from fellow legislators or they would be forever doomed to his ill-tempered antics, parliamentary tricks, and other assorted maneuverings and machinations. The guy behaves not unlike like a sugared-out kid at a sleepover. In short, nothing would ever get done.

    The vaunted “Vermont Way” changes a bit from quoter to quoter as we see our longtime crooked politician Shummy even uses it. What they must be referring to is civility in public life, reasonableness and a quietish cantankerousness although unquiet is common just not when the dome is in session. Mr G. has shown he is willing to resort to anything – nothing is off the table – to get his way and behaves like a petulent high schooler. But I would dare say behavior would be unwelcome in any statehouse.

    As to any few and far between good deeds, at least he has done something to offset using his post for profiteering but primarily serves as buffer to fool the masses as it worked with you. And he is no Dem but as I’ve said in VT that’s what sells.

    And his father was just as much of an ass.

    A mouseclick investigation reveals plenty here’s a bunch:

    JV: If you have the energy committee video w/Paul Burns and Gailbraith testy exchange pls post can’t find it thanks a bunch. Priceless!


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