The abrupt end of Norm McAllister’s first trial on sex-crime charges — a case of prosecutorial overreach, malfeasance, or cowardice, or a combo platter of all three — creates a world-class headache for Franklin County Republicans.
McAllister’s second trial is vaguely scheduled for sometime this fall, and will be conducted by the same legal Dream Team that flushed the first case down the sewer. Between now and then, we’ve got ourselves a primary vote and maybe a general election. McAllister has filed for re-election, and there’s nothing to stop him from carrying on.
Well, shame, perhaps. But he’s already proven he has precious little of that commodity. Remember the Franklin County Legislative Breakfast in January, when the recently suspended McAllister not only showed up, but tried to chair the meeting?
There will be a three-way Republican primary for two Franklin County ballot spots, featuring incumbent Dustin Degree, incumbent in-limbo McAllister, and State Rep. Carolyn Branagan.
It wouldn’t be a surprise, at all, if the esteemed ranks of Franklin County Republicans renominated McAllister despite the massive and unmistakable aroma surrounding him. Vermonters are, after all, strongly inclined to support incumbents — or too lazy to do their homework, take your pick.
If you think I’m overly generous in my assessment of McAllister’s prospects, consider this: Branagan is actively planning for a primary loss. Paul Heintz of Severn Days:
Though she’s running in the Republican primary, Branagan said she is also collecting signatures to run as an independent — in case McAllister and Degree both defeat her.
Hope for the best, expect the worst.
This is a telling note, not only as a measure of McAllister’s prospects, but also just how badly the Republicans want to be rid of this insolent beast. I doubt that Branagan would consider an independent bid without the forbearance of her county party. And an independent candidacy by Branagan would significantly increase the Democrats’ chances of picking up a Senate seat — something Vermont Republicans can ill afford.
None of ’em would actually admit they’d rather have Sara Kittell or Denise Smith in the Senate than Good Ol’ Norm, but I think we can take it as read. They have to be desperately hoping the primary voters will choose Degree and Branagan. The fact that it’s an early-August primary will work in their favor; the electorate is likely to be small and relatively well-informed.
Still, between now and then, there will be any number of candidates’ forums and public events. McAllister would be well within his rights to show up, and there would be no solid reason to turn him away.
Looking forward to the Fourth of July parades, when McAllister tries to clamber up onto the Republican flatbed and stand next to Degree and Branagan, frozen smiles on their faces, waving to the crowd.