Here’s something I bet you didn’t know.
Widespread unrest over the state’s renewable energy policy was responsible for Governor Shumlin’s near-defeat in 2014.
Well, that’s the story being peddled by our buddies at Energize Vermont, an anti-renewable nonprofit whose funding sources are entirely opaque. They’re branding it as “The Vermont Energy Rebellion,” which allegedly poses an existential threat to the Democrats in 2016.
But let’s go back to 2014, the year that Scott Milne allegedly surfed the wave of anti-renewables anger to within an eyelash of the governorship. The fevered imagination of Energize Vermont focuses on the key constituency of Craftsbury, population 1,206.
Hey, you in the back: stop laughing!
In 2010, when Peter Shumlin was running against Brian Dubie, he got 55% of the Craftsbury vote. But in 2014, he only won 31%. Take it away, Energize Vermont:
Kingdom Community Wind in Lowell—that’s what happened.
…Craftsbury voters held Governor Shumlin responsible for the project and for the way they were treated by the [Public Service Board] and they punished him at the polls.
Yeah, right. The Great Shumbling had nothing to do with the failure of Vermont Health Connect or the Jerry Dodge land deal or rising taxes or an extremely small turnout with a whole lot of liberals staying home because they “knew” Scott Milne “couldn’t win.”
Nope. It was all about those darn turbines.
A few facts. Peter Shumlin got 119,543 votes in 2010, and only 89,509 in 2014. His respective Republican opponents: Dubie 115,212, Milne 87,075.
That’s all the evidence you need to conclude that the number-one factor in the 2014 election was voter fatigue. Nobody liked the choices we were offered. Other factors, mentioned above.
The alleged “Vermont Energy Rebellion,” somewhere way down the list. EV’s evidence for the Rebellion: carefully selected small towns, not at all compared to broader trends at play.
It’s curious that EV doesn’t mention Lowell, the actual location of Kingdom Community Wind. Folks there are pretty happy with the project because it pays more than half a million dollars a year in property taxes. And, as a matter of fact, Governor Shumlin did just as poorly in Lowell in 2014 as he did in nearby towns. But that doesn’t fit EV’s ridiculous narrative, so please keep moving, nothing to see here.
Now, I don’t doubt that there is a sense of disenfranchisement among some people in small communities. A sense inflamed by the likes of Energize Vermont, which is engendering opposition with its propaganda campaign. And it certainly doesn’t help that Vermont’s environmental groups, which are on the record as supporting Vermont’s renewable energy policy, are scarcely lifting a finger to counter EV’s smear campaign. But the idea that the “Vermont Energy Rebellion” will be a major factor in the 2016 election?