The news arrived on Friday and got buried under the end-of-session avalanche: State Senator-In-Waiting Norm McAllister will face two separate trials on multiple sex-crime charges. Trial was slated to begin today, but the first of the two proceedings has been postponed until June 15. That’s the one regarding McAllister’s former “assistant,” which will feature testimony from McAllister’s legislative colleagues. That’ll be a real get-your-popcorn moment. (The second trial has yet to be scheduled.)
But that wasn’t the most interesting point.
No, the most interesting point is that McAllister is actively mulling a run for re-election. He told Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck, “I probably will file anyway. I can always change my mind and decide not to run later.”
No surprise to me. I’ve been saying all along that there’s nothing to stop McAllister from seeking re-election. Indeed, there’s nothing in state law to bar him from returning to the Senate if he wins in November — even if he’s convicted and facing prison time. The Senate does have authority to determine if someone is fit to join their august body, and it wouldn’t be hard to exclude him — if, indeed, he is convicted. If he’s acquitted, on the other hand, the Senate would be hard-pressed to banish him. He’d make everyone horribly uncomfortable, but that doesn’t constitute grounds for exclusion.
In Other News, the Republican Slimy Lies Committee — er, sorry, Republican State Leadership Committee — is back with a despicable ad targeting legislative Democrats.
A bit below the belt, I’d say. Not the Vermont Way, for those who still believe in such a thing.
Smith called on VTGOP leaders to disavow the ad; House Minority Leader Don Turner quickly refused.
“I respect his opinion and I dislike [the use of] that picture, but I need groups like RSLC to help in Vermont if we’re ever going to pick up more seats,” Turner said.
Yeah, he dislikes it so much he’s perfectly happy to profit from it and won’t lift a finger to stop it. And I guess he has no influence whatsoever at the RSLC.
The RSLC, for those just joining us, spent $370,000 in the closing days of the 2014 election targeting Democratic incumbents. They’re getting a much earlier start this year, which tells you they’re gonna make a serious investment in sharp-elbowed attack ads this year.
Which brings me to a humble suggestion for Vermont Democrats. It’s time to use Norm McAllister’s squick-inducing mugshot in your advertising. Everywhere. Because the Republicans have taken off their gloves, and it’s bare-knuckle fighting time.
I mean, hey, McAllister is far more pertinent to the broader campaign than Carr. McAllister is one of only 30 Senators, and a longtime presence in Franklin County politics. Some of his alleged offenses occurred in a Montpelier house he shared with two fellow lawmakers. He was arrested on the freakin’ Statehouse grounds. He actively fought his suspension from office.
I want ads blanketing Franklin County with Republican candidates pictured next to McAllister’s sweaty mug. I want ads with Phil Scott, Randy Brock, and McAllister. I want ads with McAllister and his former Montpelier roomie Kevin Mullin that pose the question, “What did Senator Mullin know and when did he know it? And if he didn’t, how could he not?”
And if McAllister manages to ride Incumbent Magic to the GOP nomination, it’ll be time to double down. “McAllister and Degree: A Common Agenda,” “Norm and Dustin: If You Like One, You’ll Love the Other.”
While we’re at it, can we find a mugshot of then-Republican Auditor Tom Salmon’s 2009 DUI arrest? That’d be real handy. After all, Republicans were more than happy to welcome Salmon to their statewide ticket in 2010 after he left the Democratic Party and after his DUI.
And if Republicans try to complain, well, I’d refer them to Don Turner, who doesn’t seem to have a problem with this sort of campaigning.