Phil Scott’s national buddies go negative

I knew it was just a matter of time.

“A Stronger Vermont,” the D.C.-based SuperPAC arm of the Republican Governors Association, has been dumping truckloads of cash into Vermont on behalf of Phil Scott. Officially, the RGA tally is over $500,000. But as Paul Heintz reports today, the RGA has transferred another $600,000 into ASV’s coffers, “bringing its total investment in the race to $1.2 million.” With a month and a half to go.

Until now, ASV’s ads have been right out of the Phil Scott playbook: sunny, warm scenes of Phil interacting with Real People, a comforting voice-over, and music designed to trigger an endorphin rush.

Today, ASV crossed over to the dark side, with its first TV ad attacking Sue Minter.

Check that. Attacking Peter Shumlin.

The ad depicts two custom-made bobbleheads — a very good Minter and a somewhat recognizable Shumlin — bobbling away as the narrator recounts the alleged horrors of the Shumlin years. The title of the ad is “Minter’s Mentor.”

Yeah, nice. Except that Sue Minter had built her very own political career before she ever entered the Shumlin administration. She may have served in the Shumlin cabinet, but she is an independent actor on the political stage.

And, given the gender dynamics at work, this kind of imaging is potentially dangerous for the Scott campaign.

Do they really want to typecast a successful woman as the bespoke creation of a man?

In the presidential race, the votes of moderate women may well be decisive. Donald Trump may lose the race because of his dismal numbers among centrist women. In Vermont, Phil Scott will need those votes to overcome Democrats’ inherent advantages.

How will “Minter’s Mentor” play with that audience? And would the RGA stereotype, say, Jeb Spaulding or Harry Chen or Chuck Ross the same way?

It’s a question worth pondering.

The bigger question: this is exactly the kind of “D.C.-style tactics” that Phil Scott decried when it was used against him by Bruce Lisman. It’s funded, crafted, and produced right there in Washington.

Will Scott stay true to his principles and disavow ASV’s negative turn? Or will he keep quiet and reap the benefits of D.C.-style tactics?

It’d be nice if he came out and said “I have nothing to do with the RGA’s ad campaign. While I disagree with Sue Minter on the issues, I have respect for her work in state government and her dedication to public service. And I place a high value on women’s participation in political life.”

We shall see. Not holding my breath.


3 thoughts on “Phil Scott’s national buddies go negative

    1. Andy Van Ness

      Having come to this article after searching for info behind the anti-Minter attack flier received in my mailbox today, I will say that I have officially decided to vote… for Sue Minter. Way to go, “Repug Guvnors Ass”. Your money does not impress me when wrapped around lumps of turd and tossed on my doorstep.

  1. Dennis Shanley

    Sigh, remember when Vermont political campaigns were moderate-expense, high-information exercises that we could point to with pride as an example of what makes Vermont different and special, just as we do with our billboard free highways? Alas, the banal effect of national political groups seems to be dragging us into the dismal electoral swamp that is so prevalent in most other jurisdictions. It would be wonderful if we could generate a voter revolt that rejects such rude and offensive electoral tactics.


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