Just call him Mr. Moneybags.

Rep. Chris Pearson, candidate for State Senate, suddenly finds himself with a $60,000 war chest — thanks to Bernie Sanders.

Yes, the second wave of the Political Revolution is here, and it’s a tsunami of campaign cash, courtesy of Bernie’s unmatched network of small donors. This, folks, is a Big Biden Deal.

On Tuesday, Sanders posted a list of eight candidates for state legislature. Pearson was one of them. Anyone making a contribution through that webpage would see their money split nine ways — one share for each candidate and a ninth for Sanders.

As Seven Days’ Paul Heintz reports, in a matter of hours Pearson had received $30,000. That’s now doubled to $60,000. And it comes from an incredible 12,185 individual donations — or about two-fifty apiece.

What this means for Pearson is that he won’t have to go begging for money. He’s already got 50 percent more than he thought he needed for the entire campaign.

Just from Bernie. In less than four days.

This is a dramatic turn of events in American politics, and it shows that Sanders is, indeed, building a movement. But the real groundbreaking fact is this:

Small donations can make a difference.

We’ve heard it over and over again from politicians and nonprofit organizations, but it’s never quite rung true — because those same people are also begging for big checks from the wealthy and corporations.



Bernie’s made it happen. And it looks like he’ll be able to sustain this marvelous network beyond his own presidential bid, which had been an open question. Would this be a unique situation? Would Bernie’s revolution fade into the mists?

If the initial returns are anything to judge by, Bernie is on the verge of building something transformational in American politics: a left-wing movement that can wield the same kind of people power and financial clout as the Tea Party and its corporate masters.

Oh, and here in Vermont? The odds just got a lot better that Chris Pearson will become a strong progressive (and Progressve) voice in the Senate. I look forward to his colloquies with the likes of Dick Mazza and Bobby Starr.


13 thoughts on “Berniesourcing

  1. Walter Carpenter

    I look forward to his colloquies with the likes of Dick Mazza and Bobby Starr.

    Me too:)

  2. Brooke Paige

    Nice that progressives with small wallets are able to help out. Of course, the unmentioned question is how many of the 12,000+ donors are out-of-state progressive attempting to alter the political landscape in the Green Mountains?

  3. Sen. Joe Benning

    The way I see it, this has just raised the price of a Vermont State Senate seat from Chittenden County to at least $60,000.00. If memory serves, that’s just about double from the previous election- for a job that pays about $12,000.00 a year.

    The source of any sum usually only serves to anger the other side. But this particular sum clearly removes the ability of the average Vermonter without “big money” connections to compete for a Senate seat. For someone who has railed against big money in politics his entire career, I wonder if Senator Sanders recognizes the historic significance of what he has just done to Vermont’s “people’s house.” Bernie Sanders is now a “big money” connection. His blessing may now be necessary for admission, at least from Chittenden County.

    More importantly, should he be successful in the election, I wonder how Representative Pearson will be able to distinguish being elected based on his political philosophy as opposed to being branded with the label of having bought his seat. After the gloating is over about “revolution” and such, perhaps the average Vermonter might want to think about that.

    1. Faith King

      Big Money? What an outstandingly manipulative, cynical comment. Senator Sanders receives millions of small donations from individuals. He doesn’t just pretend he does by exaggerating his small donor base and minimizing his wealthy and corporate funders – he actually does. It’s the truth. Shocking, I know. I have donated 5 bucks to him over and over again. Yes, 5 bucks. Sorry, Joe, you may not LIKE the fact that a true progressive is actually doing such a bang-up job of raising small sums of money from ordinary yokels that he can start backing progressive candidates around the country….but it ain’t corruption. It’s coalition-building. And you’ve got a bad case of sour grapes.

      1. Sen. Joe Benning

        Faith: I don’t have sour grapes because I’m not running in the district where this infusion of cash has occurred. No matter what our respective political leanings, we should all agree that something dramatic is taking place here. When a Vermont legislative seat is contingent upon receipt of money from out of state, we have a problem. If Donald Trump convinced his nationwide supporters to send money to a Vermont legislative candidate, who is then able to dwarf the candidate field with money he/she did not have to solicit, do you not see a problem? This is a terrible shift in how politics is run at the local level. As much as you may believe in Bernie’s cause, what he has done here is historically significant, and not in a good way. Our statehouse becomes a Petrie dish for whatever political philosophy wishes to pay the price.

  4. H. Wood

    Gone forever are the days when voters relied on quaint things like campaign speeches, the occasional mailer, and maybe a debate or a phone call from supporters or the candidate him/herself to influence the vote.

    This isn’t a good thing–it’s a bad thing. Sanders is bringing big money, outsider money to a small state. His wife tried to make Burlington college “too big,” too.

    I don’t like pay-to-play in state politics to this extent. I also don’t like seeing Democrats become the party of massive money for races that don’t need that kind of cash.

    Too slick.

  5. Walter Carpenter

    “After the gloating is over about “revolution” and such, perhaps the average Vermonter might want to think about that.”

    How much cash are the republican front groups, like Americans for prosperity,, etc and the RNC pushing into Vermont through citizens united this election cycle? Perhaps the average Vermonter should think about this as well

    1. Sen. Joe Benning

      Walter: I’d urge you to review the campaign filings for state senate campaigns from Chittenden County, traditionally the most expensive place to run for legislature in the State. In the 2014 election the candidate with the highest vote total (Ginny Lyons) received just under $8,500.00 in campaign contributions. The sudden triggering of $60,000.00 (at last count) of mostly out of state money represents, to me at least, a seismic shift.

      You infer that the above is okay because Republican-oriented organizations are pumping money into Vermont. The same, of course, is true for Democrat-oriented organizations. Although both sides complain about the other’s organizations’ influence, the fact is that where such contributions are made directly to candidates they are bound by campaign financing limits. Not true with what Bernie has done here. Although contribution limits still apply, there is no potential limit to donors. Donations are only limited by the popularity of the organization or person who has triggered reaction. Vermont has no control over that.

      Bernie’s move is akin to any organization (right or left) using their subscriber data base to encourage out of state individuals to contribute directly to Vermont legislative candidates because they share a common belief. This has the potential to ratchet up legislative campaign spending to levels never before imagined. Vermont’s legislature is now for sale to the political philosophy supported by the biggest subscriber base, wherever in the world that base is found and whatever its philosophy may be. Isn’t that exactly what Vermont should avoid?

      Bernie has set a precedent here and raised the bar considerably. Today if you receive his blessing you’ll easily blow away the average Vermonter running for a legislative seat with money mostly from out of state. But that will only last until the next organization or influential person can trigger even higher amounts. Setting aside whether you favor his politics, hasn’t Bernie just become what he himself has despised? We have met the enemy, and it is us.

    2. newzjunqie

      We all know outside cash comes into VT from both sides. I think point is that it’s a large amount by VT standards & somewhat hypocritical coming from Bernie after legendary infamous big-money bashing. What’s the difference between his donation & the crony capitalism he’s so averse to, not much different than Galbraiths’ self-funded purchasing of Senate seat.

      If outside cash from a Republican official publicly big-footed one state office race as Bernie did, there would be a very loud roar of complaints & front-page news, panel discussions & selfrighteous whining from editorial boards. Maybe even a red-shirted VWC march in Montpelier. Do you actually know who is pouring cash into Republican races & how much-that is the question.

      Senator Benning makes a good a point that the mainlining of money for a particular candidate raised the stakes to a standard election now *would* require the “big-money” Bernie rails against & proving both sides equally to blame for the sorry state of election affairs. Bernie apparently hates big money only when comes fro Koch Bros Inc or Sheldon Adelson..

      1. Kay Trudell

        Not the small donations from supporters in the first step of the link, but other political friends of Bernie eating from Bernie’s fundraising trough for their own campaigns. As I said, crony capitalism. It’s not just for Republicans any more.

  6. Walter Carpenter

    “You infer that the above is okay because Republican-oriented organizations are pumping money into Vermont.”

    Actually, Senator Benning, I was inferring nothing of the kind. I would like to see the money out of political campaigns so that candidates do not have to turn into panhandlers and that no candidate has an edge up on another because they have a bigger “war chest.” While I know this is about as likely as our repeal of that odious law called Citizens United that is turning (if it has not already done so) our government into a corporate oligarchy, I still dream of it. Like it or not, most of the beneficiaries of this largesse through what the author, Jane Mayer, called “Dark Money,” are GOP candidates. And it’s in Vermont too. This is what I was inferring.


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