Matt Dunne, pre-Friday:
Dunne says the state can’t meet its 90 percent renewable energy goal by 2050 unless it encourages the development of large-scale wind and solar projects.
Dunne is a proponent of large-scale renewable wind and solar projects.
“We must battle climate change and continue down the path to 90% renewable energy by 2015. …But we must do this in a Vermont way.
… “Large-scale ridgeline wind projects should only take place with the approval of the towns where the projects are located.
… “Vermont’s renewable energy future is largely in solar and small-scale hydro.”
In short, Matt Dunne has executed a last-minute flip-flop on one of the key issues in Vermont politics. And that’s why a well-connected liberal insider told me today that “No one will ever trust him again.”
What’s worse, he’s done so roughly two-thirds of the way through the early voting period. VTDigger:
The Secretary of State’s Office expects that around 17 percent of Vermonters who participate in the Aug. 9 primary will have either voted at their town clerk’s office or through the mail.
Let’s do a little math. In 2010, when we had a contested Democratic primary for governor, turnout was 23 percent. This year, both primaries are contested. Is it fair to say that turnout will be 25 percent or more? I think so.
25 percent of Vermont registered voters is 111,000. 17 percent of that is a bit under 19,000.
How many of those people cast their votes before Dunne’s reversal on Friday? Several thousand, shall we say?
How many of those thousands voted for Matt Dunne before his U-turn on renewables? How many of those supported his earlier stance?
I don’t know, but this I can say: he just betrayed every one of those people.
Okay, look. It’s not fair to expect candidates to flash-freeze their agendas once early voting begins. But it is fair to expect consistency unless events dictate otherwise. If, say, an issue suddenly became urgent or its parameters shifted in a significant way. But the renewable siting issue has been set in stone since before Dunne launched his campaign: there are those who want local control and an end to ridgeline wind, and there are those who want the state to use all available means to meet the 90 percent goal by 2050.
That hasn’t changed. What did change is Dunne’s mind, at a suspiciously convenient moment in time. His campaign actively solicited early votes starting on opening day, June 24. He harvested a large number of pro-renewable early votes, and now he’s hoping to galvanize the much smaller but more passionate believers on the other side.
A few words come to mind. Devious. Two-faced. Duplicitous. Deceitful. A few more I find in the thesaurus: calculating, underhanded, double-dealing, insidious, fraudulent, scheming, shady, shifty, sneaky, treacherous.
He’s got Dick Nixon’s hairline. He appears to have Dick Nixon’s ethics as well.
Personally, I think Dunne has sealed his fate in the Democratic primary. But if he does win, I will tell you this: I will not vote for him in November. I won’t vote for Phil Scott either, but I’d rather have an honest Scott than a Democratic Governor I can’t trust.
Postscript. As I said yesterday about Bill McKibben, who still hasn’t commented on Dunne’s flip-flop, I’ll say today about Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Vermont’s ice cream guys support Matt Dunne, but they are also big supporters of wind energy. Do they know that Dunne has double-crossed them? Are they rethinking their endorsement?