Here comes the money

This one’s for Nick.

Yeah, the Vermont primary campaign blasted through all the old records for money spent. And now the real battle begins.

On the morning after the vote, the Republican Governors Association launched the first TV ad of the general election campaign. Shockingly, it’s pro-Phil Scott.

It may make his railings against outside money look a bit like the protestations of the painted lady under the lamppost, but at least it’s a positive ad. In fact, it’s so sticky-sweet, it ought to come with a warning: “You May Contract Diabetes While Watching This Advertisement.” Scenes of Phil’s appealingly craggy face on a summer day as he greets Real Vermonters, while a piano arpeggiates and an inviting, slightly MILFy voice extols his virtues. He will, Carol Brady assures us, “restore trust in state government, bring new jobs to Vermont, and focus on solving problems, not playing politics.”

I’m sure the next ad will include “heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons.” (Hey, I went to Sunday School*.)

This ad will soon be ubiquitous on Vermonters’ TV screens, thanks to a “significant, six-figure buy” courtesy of the RGA. For its part, the Democratic Governors Association told Seven Days’ Paul Heintz that it “is committed to doing everything possible to ensure” Sue Minter’s election.

And don’t forget EMILY’s List, which largely funded  a six-figure buy on Minter’s behalf during the homestretch of the primary.

And here’s a tantalizing tidbit. In an appearance on WDEV’s “Open Mike” this morning, political analyst Steve Terry noted that longtime Pat Leahy staffer Luke Albee has been “working behind the scenes on the Minter campaign.” Albee is a frequent conduit for bringing big political money to Vermont. He is, according to Terry, a friend of John Podesta, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton.

You could say he’s connected. Somehow I don’t think Sue Minter will have any trouble matching Scott dollar-for-dollar, or even outdoing him.

All this and more will follow the costliest primary in Vermont history. The number-crunchers at Seven Days estimate that “the candidates themselves spent more than $4.9 million seeking their parties’ nominations.” We won’t know the final total until next Monday, when a new round of campaign finance reports is due.

And that, as Heintz points out, doesn’t include outside expenditures totaling at least $370,000.

Remember 2010, when Peter Shumlin and Brian Dubie combined to spend roughly $3 million in their slugfest? This year, Minter and Scott might spend that much by mid-September. And, unlike in 2010, outside groups are certain to invest heavily in Vermont’s gubernatorial contest.

The result, as I said in my own post-primary appearance on “Open Mike”, might even make conservatives hope that Citizens United will be overturned.

The candidates will rail against Big Money, I’m sure. And they’ll keep on cashing those checks.

*Blogger Trivia: I won a Sunday School attendance award at good old Richmond Reformed Church. The prize was my choice of a book from a modest selection of titles. I chose “PT-109.” 

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