I don’t know whose bright idea it was to invite the former Most Hated Man in the Senate to Matt Dunne’s news conference on corporate campaign contributions, but apparently it worked out about as well as you might suspect.
In other words, as Seven Days’ Paul Heintz tells it, Peter Galbraith pretty much hijacked the affair.
Galbraith has been a longtime opponent of corporate contributions, having repeatedly proposed a ban during his time in the Senate. Which always seemed more than a bit disingenuous to me, since Galbraith had the resources to self-fund his own campaigns to his heart’s content. In his first bid for the Senate, he put more than $50,000 into his campaign, which was far, far more than any other candidate could have hoped to raise.
(He was the rare diplomat who returned home a very rich man, thanks to his connections with the Kurds and their oil-funded generosity. Indeed, he’s probably the closest thing Vermont has to an oil magnate.)
Galbraith has been musing about a run for governor. I don’t know if Dunne harbored some faint hope of co-opting him, but it sure didn’t work out that way.
You take your life into your hands when you get between Peter Galbraith and a TV camera. So when you invite him to a press conference, you’d best expect that bull to break a few dishes. Dunne, according to Heintz, wore a “somewhat pained expression” as Galbraith went on at length on his own favorite subject — Himself — and whether Himself would deign to run for governor.
Repeatedly. With barely-concealed barbs for the man who had invited him.
“I’ve made clear that I’m exploring [a bid for governor]. I’ve also made clear my belief that we do not need 15-month campaigns for a 24-month job. That’s always been the Vermont tradition.”
That’s nice, standing next to the guy who launched his own campaign roughly eighteen months before Election Day. Galbraith followed that up with a heapin’ helpin’ of condescension for Dunne.
“Again, I want to conclude by congratulating Matt for speaking out on this issue … He talked the talk from the beginning of his campaign,” Galbraith said, referring to Dunne’s early policy statement that he would seek to ban corporate contributions in Vermont. “Now he’s walking the walk.”
Ever the diplomat, Galbraith elaborated on his moral superiority.
“And I want to say, it’s much harder for Matt to do this than it would be for me,” he said. “I’ve never accepted corporate contributions, and the reality is none were ever offered, so it was pretty easy. But once you’ve gone through the hard work of raising money, then to return it — that’s a tough thing. So congratulations, Matt.”
The record does not show whether Galbraith actually patted Dunne on the head, but he might as well have. It was a naked example of the political approach that made Galbraith The Most Hated Man in the Senate. And if he runs for governor, he’ll have to overcome all the bruised feelings he left in his wake.
One thing for sure: if he wants to run, he has more than enough money to do it without anybody’s help, corporate or otherwise.