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.
@MintersMentor You realize that painting a woman as her boss’ puppet isn’t going to go well with women voters.
— The #vtpoli Observer (@theVPO1) September 28, 2016
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.