The Vermont Republican Party, said by Sen. Dustin Degree to be the party of youth, now has a 72-year-old running for Lieutenant Governor to go with the 68-year-old (Bruce Lisman) and the 57-year-old (Phil Scott) running for governor.
The latest AARP-eligible to grace the Republican campaign is Randy Brock, former state auditor and state senator, and spectacularly unsuccessful candidate for governor in 2012.
The best account of Brock’s announcement comes from the Vermont Press Bureau’s indefatigable Neal Goswami, who got the dirt on a freshly opened rift on the VTGOP’s right wing.
Recently, Brock had met with former VTGOP Treasurer Mark Snelling (65 years old, Dustin). The subject: the two men’s shared interest in Vermont’s Bucket of Warm Spit.
Snelling said he and Brock had a recent meeting in which the two agreed to ask the state party to host a meeting with candidates interested in the position “to try and maximize the talents within the party.”
But Brock called Snelling Wednesday night to tell him he was announcing his candidacy.
Sorta like two boxers ready for a fight. The bell rings, and one fighter suddenly says “Hey, look, it’s Muhammad Ali!” Second fighter turns his head; first fighter whomps him in the gut.
In a way, I sympathize with Snelling; there’d been talk of an arrangement that would have left him running for Lite-Guv while Brock would content himself with (64-year-old) Norm McAllister’s Senate seat. I’ll bet Snelling thought he had dibs on the higher office; he ran for Lt. Gov. in 2010 and lost to Phil Scott in the primary. So now it should be his turn, right?
On the other hand, the Republican Party is supposed to embrace unfettered capitalism and free markets. Why should it opt for a backroom deal instead of an open competition of ideas?
Until last night, Snelling and Brock were two of the leading lights of the VTGOP’s conservative wing. Brock balks at the characterization; but within the party, he’s been solidly in the Jack Lindley camp. And of course, conservative activist Darcie Johnston was his campaign manager in 2012.
Now, I fear, the two compadres have been split by ambition.
“I would never have a desire to run against Randy. On the other hand, I don’t think his jumping out of the gun should stop me or anyone else from running. I’m not going to let it stop me. I’m going to make my decision on my time and if I run it will be against Randy,” [Snelling] said.
The man has an interesting definition of “never.”
Too bad, so sad. And not exactly a healthy development for Republican conservatives. If Snelling and Brock both enter the race, they’d likely split the hard-right vote. That could open the door to someone like Scott Milne or Joe Benning to take the nomination, which would be an embarrassing defeat for the True Believers.