Bernie Sanders is definitely in it to win it, on behalf of gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter. He spent three days last weekend appearing at campaign rallies for the Democratic ticket, and now he’s doing the same this weekend. (Schedule below.) Plus, earlier this week, he sent out a fundraising email blast to his millions of supporters, asking them to donate to the Minter campaign.
He may have waited a long time to endorse Minter and other Vermont Dems, but he’s doing everything he can to make up for lost time.
The Bernie/Dem relationship has always been a bit of an eggshell walk, neither side completely trusting the other. Generally speaking, the Dems don’t assume he will help; anything he offers is considered a bonus. The Dems may have been less hopeful than usual this year because Governor Shumlin and Senator Leahy came out early for Hillary Clinton.
So Bernie’s dive into the deep end of the pool is a welcome development. The rallies are driving media coverage and enthusiasm in the Dem/Prog base. And the fundraising?
You may recall that when Bernie sought donations for an array of state legislative candidates including Rep. Chris Pearson, the immediate response was staggering. Almost overnight, Pearson had the biggest bankroll of any candidate for the Vermont Legislature. If there was any doubt about his prospects for picking up a Chittenden County Senate nomination, they vanished at that point.
Has the same thing happened for the Minter campaign?
We don’t know. Campaign manager Molly Ritner kept her cards close to the vest. “We’re not giving any numbers right now,” she told me. “We’ll report our numbers to the Secretary of State at the next filing deadline, which I believe is November 4.”
When I pressed for a broad description of the response — a choice adjective, perhaps — she laughed, said “Let me think,” and paused for a few seconds before offering:
“We know that during Bernie’s presidential campaign, he excited millions of followers to give record numbers of small donations. We found that in action this week, when he called for donations to our campaign.”
Tantalizing. We shall eagerly await the November 4 report.
I was one of those who thought Bernie might well sit this campaign out, because he was too busy campaigning for Hillary Ciinton or writing his book or nursing grievances or whatever. He’s proven my cynicism wrong. If Minter loses, it won’t be because Bernie failed to do his part.
The rally schedule for this weekend:
9:30 am Friday: Johnson State College
11:30 am Friday: Lyndon State College
1:30 pm Friday: Newport Gateway Center
5:00 pm Friday: TIp Top Cafe, White River Junction
3:00 pm Saturday: Brattleboro Union High School
UPDATE: The Vermont Democratic Party has released a new TV ad featuring Pat Leahy’s endorsement of Sue Minter in Leahy’s own words, illustrated by photos of the two. Nicely done.
UPDAYE II: The Phil Scott campaign has issued a statement saying the Minter campaign must be “desperate” to be “bringing in” President Obama and Bernie Sanders on her behalf. Which begs the question, how do you “bring in” a guy from Vermont? And will the Scott campaign accuse Minter of “bringing in” Pat Leahy as well?