“Can you believe that fucker?”

Matt Dunne has achieved the impossible: he’s made me feel sympathy for Peter Galbraith.

The latter, whom I once dubbed “The Most Hated Man in the Senate” for his narcissistic rampages through the fields of parliamentary procedure, is the author of this post’s headline. Galbraith was speaking of Dunne, who continued a series of stunning, unforced errors that has almost certainly landed his once-promising political career in the dustbin of history.

And to think that one week ago none of this had happened, and I was actively pondering which Democrat to vote for in the primary. Seriously, I didn’t vote early because I couldn’t make up my mind.

The latest in Dunne’s cavalcade of blunders concerned his late decision to loan his own campaign some $95,000, as he desperately tried to pull his candidacy out of a self-inflicted tailspin.

The problem, as Seven Days‘ Paul Heintz first reported, is that Dunne had stated throughout his campaign, as a matter of high principle, that he would not use his own money to fill his campaign coffers. The statement is still on his campaign website: 

I will personally be adhering to the contribution limits set for an individual Vermonter, and will not be self funding the campaign above those limits.  

And we’re calling on all the other candidates in the race to do the same and abstain from self-funding their campaigns.   

The bold print is Dunne’s.

What’s worse, he took to the airwaves in a VPR debate and attacked Galbraith for self-funding his campaign. Which prompted Galbraith to chuckle and tell Heintz “Can you believe that fucker?”

No, I can’t. I mean, when Dunne accused Galbraith on Thursday, he had already “loaned” his campaign $95,000. And he had to know that this fact would emerge.

Dunne’s ill-considered attack on Galbraith came one day after an equally ill-considered news conference in which his campaign manager Nick Charyk blamed just about everybody in the state EXCEPT his candidate or himself. Then, and in a subsequent press release, Charyk has blamed the media (more on that in a moment) and “the establishment” for the mess that Dunne put himself in. He tried to promote Dunne as such a dangerous figure that “the establishment” was conspiring to defeat him.

Which is laughable. At his core, Dunne is a moderately liberal technocrat who might actually make a pretty good governor. This whole presentation of Dunne as the second coming of Bernie Sanders has never been a good fit. It’s even more absurd to present him as a revolutionary threat to the established order.

To reiterate, last Friday’s press release on renewable siting policy was carefully crafted to make it appear that Dunne was taking the side of the opposition — those who want to create new barriers to siting renewable energy facilities. The first wave of blowback came immediately, not just from the Democratic “establishment”, but even more so from the environmental community, which saw the release as a betrayal.

Dunne then tried to explain that his position hadn’t really changed much — which infuriated opponents of ridgeline wind, the very folks he’d hoped to bring on board with the Friday statement. Hence, he wound up with all sides mad at him. And it was his own damn fault.

As I’ve said before, Dunne (and presumably Charyk) tried to be too clever by half, and they got burned big-time.

Now, about Charyk’s attempt to blame the media. Unfortunately for him, it fails the calendar test. Let’s look back at the sequence of events.

Dunne’s press release was issued on Friday afternoon. Only one media outlet — the rabidly establishmentarian Seven Days — ran a story on Friday. I chimed in with the first of a series of blogposts on Friday evening. (I guess that makes me part of the Shumlin/Minter/Blittersdorf cabal. I’m honored to be nominated, but I’m still waiting for my payoff.)

That was about it until Monday, when the Vermont Press Bureau and VTDigger posted stories.

By the time most of the media ran their reports, the damage had already been done. Environmental groups, along with climate change advocate extraordinaire Bill McKibben, had formed their opinions. McKibben had already withdrawn his earlier endorsement of Dunne, and the enviros were set to do the same. I also began hearing almost immediately from Democrats who were furious with Dunne.

The anger was not based on the slanted reporting of Seven Days or Yours Truly, but on their reading of Dunne’s press release.

Matt Dunne did this to himself. He seemed to realize this, at least partly; at his Wednesday presser, he let Charyk take the lead in attacking everyone else, while he expressed some regret for the original statement that triggered the avalanche.

It’s hard not to see the events of the past six days as an unintentional political suicide — a remarkable series of mistakes at the most crucial stage of the primary campaign.

To think that the conventional wisdom had Dunne as the smartest political mind in the race. I certainly thought he was. And I strongly considered backing him because I thought he’d be the strongest Democratic candidate for the general election.

As it turns out, he’s not even the strongest Democrat in the primary campaign. I hope Google is keeping his seat warm; he’s gonna need a job on August 10.

Bonus Irony Points: the Dunne campaign had planned to turn away from renewable energy on Wednesday and focus on a different issue: restoring trust in government.

That’s rich, and reveals a dangerous degree of self-unawareness. Dunne had just spent five days exploding everyone’s trust in him, and then he was going to come out and explain how he would restore trust.

Stranger than fiction, I tell you.


8 thoughts on ““Can you believe that fucker?”

  1. newzjunqie

    Go for the jugular much? Um…vitriolic attacks are off the rails & surprisingly viscious. Aren’t you better than this VPO. Pretty clear that entrenched liberal establishment including yourself are acting in concert actively attempting to destroy Matt Dunnes chances in a bloody cagematch, and are actually the ones attempting to do the honors of tossing him into the dustbin.

    Can only hope all of the vitriolic hatemongers are tossed into the dustbin of their failed liberal lala-land experiment raising our taxes by hundreds of millions in a few short years. Expecting a Scott win, with hopefully all vestiges & remnants purged. I do support Dunne as the Dem candidate & expect him to win, but reality tells me Dems are done. Hopefully will partner with Dunne to remake IT projects & VT the technological model & Silicon Valley of the northeast. And the losers a textbook example & cautionary tale of the arrogance, abject failure & ruination Shumlin & sycophants aided & abetted by our elected leaders including supporters of eight years of one party rule have brought upon us all.

    Dunne is waaay ahead of the curve re renewables by embracing the voice of VTers as well as supporting renewables. Refreshing to see a sensible renewable advocate who hasn’t partaken of the Fool-Ade, willing to hear and act upon concerns of We The (little) People. Does not deserve the wrath of almighty Big Green & their brassknuckled thugs.

    Personally sick & tired of them all, the arrogance & dishonest tactics, do not support VPIRG & no longer a member. Hateful vitriolic attacks are as appalling as they are withering. Merely watching this unfold personally brought me down — very depressing. Recognizing the reality that for Matt, family, supporters — the ones victimized — how much harder a hit they took. To see him with his wife and supporters bravely enduring the assault on his character not only admirable but very touching.

    Along with the likes of Annette Smith crazytrain, attackers, all other dogpilers — shame on you all. Cannot believe a fine person who has listened to the people, heard them & willing to give them a voice, no matter how clumsy the kneejerk responses & perhaps decisions made on the fly made under extreme pressure is then bloodied. Rather than stand with other hopefuls who have shown themselves as mere politicians who will gladly sell us out to their wealthy donors, fellow elitist ruling class & doctinaire party platform. Masterful leadership is or should be the gold standard.

    Vast overreach & ignoring populace will result in backlash, blowback of which will be a huge setback for renewables. Matt gets this. Although I do not believe a community should be able to reject renewables entirely, should have the right to seek expert advice & support to offer guidance on what incentives to expect & make their own rules such as imposing a one mile or-whatever-distance setback that ensures *no noise*. So Matt Dunne support of the community partnership model rather than slipping into the sack with the developers selling us out that they can make their fortunes to our detriment — good on him.

    Solar arrays could be set back & hidden by shrubbery, trees etc. Residents should be informed of what choices they have just as we would when making any important decision or purchase such as access to the more modern sophisticated enhanced solar designs. What’s missing here are choices & competition. The will of government mandates are thoughtlessly imposed instead of supporting & partnering with the community as Entergy Louisiana did resulting in Vernons overwhelming support while becoming their oyster & eating out of their hand.

    PSB is the problem here & should be dismantled. We in southern remember all to well the spineless response to Entergy Louisiana subjugation, aided & abetted by their lapdog Douglas & mascot OBrien. They all socialized with one another like a club. Neverending antics such as the nonstop leaks & lax safety culture was A-OK.

    PSD under Rechia but controlled by Shumlin regime complete failure, needs to be repurposed to act as mediator, enforce regulations & statutes which benefit residents & hold utilities to higher standards rather than climbing into bed & partying with them. In other states there are also renewables but residents have much more say & there is not an entity which serves solely to rubberstamp all projects & allow these arrogant invaders to make our lives miserable. It will not setback renewable goals however it may cut into their profits.

    Suck it up as we have learned to do folks.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Wrong from the gitgo. I did not act in concert with anyone. I reacted to Dunne’s Friday release independently. If you’ve read me for any length of time, you’ll know I am no respecter of the establishment. But hey, if inventing a dastardly anti-Dunne cabal makes you feel better, by all means have at it.

      1. Walter Carpenter

        “failed liberal lela-land experiment raising our taxes by hundreds of millions in a few short years.”

        Ronald Reagan and George Bush, for example, gave us some of the largest tax increases we’ve ever seen in this country.

  2. newzjunqie

    If I judged you unfairly my bad. Know that it’s never personal. Totally respect the unique voice, expert analysis & most of all wild wit of the VPO.

    Political scene & climate disturbing to say the very least. We news junkies that follow it like the trading floor of the NYSE get a little crazy at the continual gobs-macking of headshaking negative news.

    Threads of attacks on Dunne I gotta say, solely as a Dunne supporter, just too much. Head has been in my hands thoughout more than out.

    But yeah I of all ppl recognize blogosphere not for the fainthearted. Pls keep up the great work & carry on VPO. We need all voices.

  3. Steve Beck

    Bonus Points? “Bonus Irony Points: the Dunne campaign had planned to turn away from renewable energy on Wednesday and focus on a different issue: restoring trust in government.
    No one is able to restore my trust in government. No one. Nor the men in blue, as an aside.
    It is beyond redemption. It is an abusive relationship.

  4. Bud Haas

    Actually having this kind of behavior does let us know how he might perform as governor. And now we know.
    Bottom line is that he has no real experience in running for and performing as an elected person.
    Besides, his shoes are just too shiny for Vermont.


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