Sue Minter seems to be spending a lot of time lately trying to out-ethics Phil Scott. After he announced he would sell his stake in Dubois Construction if elected governor, she continued to pound on potential conflicts of interest. Now, she’s returning campaign donations from a lawyer connected to the scandal-plagued EB-5 developments ni the Northeast Kingdom.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is a waste of time and unlikely to resonate with voters. It’s the kind of stuff that political insiders (and us outsiders who obsess about politics) care about, but I seriously question whether the voters do.
Besides which, trying to blacken Scott’s reputation is a mug’s game. He’s such a familiar figure with such a positive image; you’re not likely to change people’s minds unless there’s an October Surprise lurking in Scott’s closet.
Better, in my mind, to focus on the issues, where Scott is weakest.
Tell the voters why a Minter administration is a better choice for their concerns, which seem to revolve around the economy. There’s a solid case to be made; Democratic policies, even if they result in higher taxes (which is not a given), are a net positive for the economy. (See below.) Minter should devote more time to making that ase. We’ve only got a little more than a month to go before Election Day; the news cycles dwindle down to a precious few.
The campaign donations in question, totaling $1,000, came from attorney Charles Leamy. Minter returned the money on September 17, one day after Leamy was named in a lawsuit filed by two EB-5 investors. One week later, the investors dropped their suit.
Minter’s running scared of EB-5 taint, with some justification. But this money seems barely tainted if at all, and $1,000 isn’t big enough to be scandalous. It’s a diversion from the issues that could help drive up liberal turnout and make centrist voters less likely to ticket-split for Scott.
As for the economic benefits of the Democratic agenda, Phil Scott talks like any money spent by the government might as well have gone on the burn pile. In his mind, it’s just money removed from the economy.
In fact, public-sector investments in things like education and infrastructure are key for business. When you ask business leaders about the biggest obstacle they face, the answer isn’t taxes or regulations — it’s a lack of qualified workers. Minter’s plan to offer two years of tuition-free secondary education would remedy that problem in short order.
Even money spent on the social safety net — welfare, food stamps, Earned Income Tax Credit, LIHEAP — immediately inject more purchasing power into the economy, driving growth through that whole supply-and-demand equation you might remember from Econ 101.
Conservatives, including Phil Scott, claim that lowering taxes will grow the economy and actually increase tax revenues. Problem is, every time someone tries it, it doesn’t work.
Better to carry the attack to Scott on the solid ground of the issues than to press a doomed effort to out-image a genial, plausibly honest candidate with proven appeal.