The Republican candidate for governor is famously not a fan of Donald Trump. Phil Scott plans to write in Jim Douglas for President, in an empty gesture of “leadership.”
But if Scott doesn’t want to vote for Trump, he might just find himself having to root for the man.
There’s a lot of talk in Republican circles these days about cutting their losses: concentrating resources in key areas, and making some necessary sacrifices in the process.
Trump’s at the top of that sacrificial hierarchy, but here’s something to ponder. How high on that list do you suppose Phil Scott is?
Scott has made some tentative moves to fundraise nationally for his own campaign, although he brags endlessly about how much of his warchest is authentic Vermont greenbacks. (We have our own currency, right?) You can spin that the other way, of course: maybe he’s tried to attract out-of-state money and failed.
Scott has received some tangible support from a SuperPAC operated by the Republican Governors Association. (Ironically named “A Stronger Vermont,” since it has no ties whatsoever to our state. It’s based in the RGA headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, a hop and a skip from the White House.) A post-primary TV ad extolling Scott as a sunny figure of hope. A mailer that arrived in my mailbox late last week, echoing the themes and iconography of the TV spot.
(Which, by the way, does anything spell “waste of money” like a mailer sent just after the primary and nearly three months before the election? Aren’t mailers supposed to be memory-joggers for the closing days?)
This is obviously the opening gambit in an RGA effort . But what if their calculus is affected by Trump’s apparent collapse? Do they suddenly have to turn their attentions away from a relatively meaningless morale-booster in Vermont, and toward bigger governorships that might be in danger of going Democratic?
Bigger picture, if push comes to shove, conservative donors will focus on the biggest prize — defending Republican majorities in Congress. They may shift their money out of RGA activities and toward key races in the House and Senate.
Of course, the big donors have money to burn, and Vermont’s a cheap buy. But if Trump’s poll numbers continue to dwindle, the Republicans will face increasing pressure to circle the wagons.
And Phil Scott may be left on the outside, facing the savage hordes of Vermont liberalism all by his lonesome.