The deal went down

Aww, crap on a cracker.

Precisely as it was foreseen in the sacred portents, Tim Ashe will succeed John Campbell as Senate President Pro Tem.

That’s not the bad part. The bad part is the other half of the presumed backroom deal, which allows Democrat In Name Only Dick Mazza to keep his plum post as the third member of the Senate’s Committee on Committees.

One can only hope that his ability to wreak mischief with committee appointments will be reined in by Ashe and the CoC’s third member, Lt. Gov-elect David Zuckerman.

(Constitutional footnote: The CoC consists of the Lieutenant Governor, Senate President Pro Tem, and a third member elected by the Senate. The CoC’s primary duty is naming committee chairs and doling out committee assignments. It can, if so inclined, reward the loyal and punish the disloyal, and stack the deck for or against key issues.)

For the life of me, I do not understand the allure of Dick Mazza. The Democratic caucus has just rewarded him with an influential position after a campaign in which he beat the drum loudly and persistently for Republican Phil Scott.

That’s the kind of thing that usually has repercussions. But not in the Senate Democratic caucus, which seems more concerned with Senatorial prerogatives and folkways than with party unity.

As Paul Heintz reports, Ashe’s election was unanimous. The last remaining challenger, veteran Democrat Claire Ayer, withdrew over the weekend and made a bid to remove Mazza from the CoC. She argued that a CoC made up of Ashe, Mazza and Zuckerman would be all male and all from Chittenden County. Which is inconveniently true.

The caucus held a secret ballot, which is interesting. In past years, Mazza’s elevation has been by acclimation, as was today’s vote for Ashe. Methinks the caucus members were embarrassed to put their votes on the record.

Miracle of miracles, Mazza kept his seat on a 14-8 vote. And thanks to the secret ballot, we’ll never know which Senators opted for tradition over party and diversity.

What is it about the Senate that resists inclusiveness? The old farts rise to leadership positions — unless they’re female, of course. And now the young farts are bypassing women with much more seniority. (Claire Ayer, in particular, just can’t catch a break.) While the House Democratic caucus is poised to name a female Speaker, the Senate remains a Boys’ Club.

Reportedly, the Senate Dem caucus will perform a little cosmetic surgery by elevating Becca Balint to House Majority Leader, but that’s less a power position than a functionary one.

It’s tokenism, in short.

Thankfully in recent years the Senate has become less and less a refuge for dinosaurs. The likes of Bob Hartwell, John Campbell, Vince Illuzzi, and Bill Doyle have trundled off to the political tar pits. But Mazza, Mazza Everlasting, is still with us.

And apparently the Senate just can’t function without Mazza in a leadership position. Sad.


6 thoughts on “The deal went down

  1. Ken Johnson

    Actually, I think Dick Mazza provides just a bit of check and balance to the “We know all and are willing to pass huge numbers of laws to regulate and cure all problems, real or not” tendencies of our esteemed legislative body.

  2. Peter Polomus

    How did Dick Mazza make his money? Did he start his own business or was he born into it? I guess I’m asking if he ever really had to go out and look for a job to make ends meet or has income always been provided to him? It could explain his obvious sense of entitlement. Thanks.

  3. Sen. Joe Benning

    Re: “For the life of me, I do not understand the allure of Dick Mazza.”

    Well, he does make a really good ham salad sandwich. Oh, and he’s also been a pretty good at keeping an even keel on the ship of state. I know that drives you crazy, but somebody’s got to do it.


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