Ruh-roh. I’ll bet Pat Leahy is quaking in his boots.
Either that, or snickering in his tumbler of single malt. The Valley News via VTDigger:
Milne Travel, the Barre-based travel agency owned by former Vermont GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne, has sold a controlling stake in the company to the New York-based travel management giant Altour International Inc.
Milne, who acknowledged he is weighing a run later this year for the U.S. Senate seat held by Patrick Leahy, said the joint venture with Altour places his firm on a solid financial footing “should I get lucky … it gives me the ability to step back for six years.”
That’s right, Senator. Vermont’s own Giant Killer has you squarely in his crosshairs.
Well, to be fair, Milne’s name recognition should allow him to outpace Len Britton, who earned 31% of the vote in 2010 as Leahy’s most recent Republican opponent. But can Milne repeat his David V. Goliath act against Vermont’s Senior Senator?
I suppose I should explain, since I was equally dismissive of Milne’s chances in 2014, when he came within an eyelash of unseating Shumlin. So why am I confident in laughing off his chances this time?
Well, to start with, Leahy is not Shumlin. The Governor was saddled with low approval ratings, some ongoing policy disappointments, and his image as an untrustworthy conniver.
Leahy is, well, St. Patrick. He has an approval rating north of 70 percent. A mere one-fifth of voters express dissatisfaction with him. Although his favorite superhero is Batman, he is, indisputably, as bulletproof as Superman.
And no, I don’t think the superdelegate kerfuffle makes a damn bit of difference. I’m sure there will be a handful of Bernie dead-enders who will refuse to vote for Leahy. Might drop his vote total by a percent or so. That’s all.
On top of that, let’s take a closer look at the Milne Miracle. I have written this before, but nobody else in the media ever does, so it’s time for a refresher course.
The dominant theme in the 2014 election was a rejection of Peter Shumlin. The dominant reality was an electorate that, in huge numbers, decided to sit out the gubernatorial race. Here are the twin threads of history:
In 2012, Randy Brock suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Peter Shumlin.
In 2014, Scott Milne nearly pulled off a political miracle and took Shumlin to the limit.
In 2012, Randy Brock received 110,970 votes.
In 2014, Scott Milne received 87,075 votes.
Remind me again: which was the “successful” campaign?
The difference in the two races is that Shumlin’s support fell off the cliff — from 170,767 to 89,509.
Think about that. Almost one-half of those who voted for Shumlin in 2012 rejected him in 2014.
Much of that was Shumlin-specific. In addition, 2012 was a presidential year and 2014 was not. Vermont always has a much higher turnout in presidential years. How much higher? Over the last 20 years, the presidential-year turnout is roughly 300,000. In non-presidential years, it’s 211,000.
And this year, in case you hadn’t noticed, is a presidential year.
Maybe I’m shooting a gnat with an elephant gun, but I felt compelled to explain why I am, once again, dismissing Scott Milne’s chances even though I was wrong last time.
I won’t be wrong this time. If Milne steps into the ring with Leahy, he’ll be quickly and easily dispatched.