Didn’t see that coming.
The Burlington Free Press has endorsed Sue Minter.
As have the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus.
Both are surprising; the latter because the ex-Mitchell Family papers are published in (1) the heartland of Vermont Republicanism and (2) Phil Scott’s home turf respectively. I mean, c’mon, Thunder Road.
The former because, well, I thought the Free Press’ endorsement of David Zuckerman sent clear signals that the paper would split its ticket and go with Scott.
Instead, we have the state’s three biggest newspapers going with Minter.
The two papers’ editorials came to similar conclusions, but took different routes to get there. The Free Press never even mentioned Phil Scott by name, while the Herald/Times Argus did a thorough comparison. It had praise for Scott — “Vermont would not be steered wrong under a Scott administration” — but preferred Minter’s combination of “energy, competence, and fresh vision” and “solid, hands-on experience.” Considering that Scott has been in state government longer than Minter, that’s kind of a diss to Mr. Leadership.
The H/T-A concluded with a tacit dismissal of one of Scott’s core principles: that this is a time to proceed cautiously with new ideas. Instead, the editorial concludes with:
Sue Minter is the better choice for leading Vermont into a period requiring imagination and change.
As for the Free Press, it praised Minter’s “well-articulated agenda,” and contrasted it with the unnamed Scott’s lack of “clear, explicit priorities” and his campaign’s single-issue focus on taxes and affordability.
The Free Press, just like the Herald/Times Argus, rejects Scott’s go-slow argument. Its conclusion:
This is no time for Vermont to stand still.
Sue Minter’s vision for moving the state forward makes her the best candidate for governor of Vermont.
Pihl Scott’s campaign has been one long exercise in Four Corners offense — the classic basketball tactic of preserving a lead by running time off the clock. It may have appeared to be a sound approach, by emphasizing Scott’s personal popularity and isolating him from the unpopular specifics of conservative Republicanism without directly alienating the VTGOP’s conservative base.
If these two endorsements are any indication, that strategy may turn out to be a mistake of epic proportions. It has left Scott looking like A Man Without A Plan, a crown prince with no clothes.
Newspaper endorsements are not very influential. But if nothing else, they’ve got to be a boost for the Minter campaign and a disappointment for Team Scott. And t -he reasoning behind these papers’ choices may signal that the Scott campaign is out of step with the tenor of the times.
We’ll find out one week from Tuesday.