Sing it with me, boys and girls: “One of these things is not like the others…”
That, my friends, is the star-studded lineup for Saturday night’s “gala dinner” hosted by the Windsor County Republicans. Well, that plus a “Soap Box” for any Republican candidate who shows up and wants to charm the crowd with some campaign bumpf.
Constant Readers will recall that Windsor County GOP Chair John MacGovern had touted the event with a list of “invited speakers” featuring a whole bunch of Republican notables: at least three presidential candidates, any and all Vermont Republican hopefuls, plus VTGOP godfather Jim Douglas.
Well, apparently most of those folks declined the invitation. Instead, we get the odd quartet pictured above: three of the most conservative politicos in the VTGOP, plus wealthy gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman.
And don’t forget the Soap Box!
Also, for those actually considering the $25 admission fee, please don’t forget that there won’t be a cash bar. Yep, you’ll have to take in the night’s “entertainment” cold sober, unless you tank up in the parking lot beforehand. Or bring a flask.
I wonder what this says about the Bruce Lisman campaign. He’s been largely absent from the public stage since announcing his bid. His plain-vanilla website doesn’t even mention his candidacy; in fact, it looks like it hasn’t been updated in some time. And now he’s the only prominent Republican to accept an invitation to John MacGovern’s cattle call. Is he having trouble getting traction with the mainstream GOP? Is he having second thoughts about this running-for-governor thing? Too soon to tell, but he’s surely off to a slow start.
I’ve been asked if this event could portend a Lisman/conservative alliance. My answer: Not as such. However, the party’s Jack Lindley wing supposedly hates Phil Scott so much that they’d happily support a blow-up doll if it was the only option on the ballot. If they can’t find one of their own to enter the race — and their best hope, Randy Brock, is now running for lieutenant governor — they might support Lisman out of sheer spite.
Worth watching: will Lisman start actively courting these folks? Will he realize that Phil Scott has the mainstream in his pocket, and execute a rightward pivot out of sheer political opportunism slash desperation? He could rebrand himself as a bare-knuckled businessman who can bring a no-nonsense business attitude to the corner office. That might be good enough for desperate conservatives hungry for a hero.
For me, that’s about the only interesting aspect of Saturday night’s booze-free soiree: how will Bruce Lisman connect with what’s likely to be a conservative crowd? How will he look sharing a stage with some of the state’s True Believers?
But I’m not interested enough to make the trek to the Upper Valley and give $25 to John MacGovern.