Hey, everybody! Meet Meg Hansen, writer, consultant, low-budget TV show host, and now a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.
Hansen is a bright young woman with a compelling backstory who you might recall as a communications staffer for the Vermont House Republican caucus in 2016-17. After that, she spent about a year as head of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, the right-wing advocacy group that’s had no discernible influence on the health care debate. Otherwise, Hansen’s public activities are largely confined to the off-hours of community access television.
She is a devout conservative who believes in the power of unfettered capitalism to float everybody’s boat. Her vision would remake Vermont along the lines of America’s reddest states.
“The American Dream is alive and well in states like Texas and North Carolina but not in Vermont,” she writes on her campaign website. At the risk of being churlish, I’d ask if she sees the American Dream doing well in states like Mississippi and Kansas, which have low taxes and little regulation but are economically stagnant.
She’s opposed to Obamacare and other health care reform efforts; her solution is to let the free market do its magic — giving all Vermonters the chance to buy overpriced, crappy, exception-laden insurance policies. She’s not a fan of fighting climate change or climate activists, who “use the specter of climate catastrophe to demonize us as polluters-parasites on earth,” and whose proposed solutions are “immoral.”
She also favors the “freedom to vape,” which, okay then.
You get the idea. It’s precisely the kind of hard-core conservative platform that’s been a consistent, lopsided loser in Vermont.
Hansen makes a big deal about freedom of speech, and opposes any effort to define or regulate “hate speech.” Which is a little odd, because she currently blocks me on Twitter.
Anyway. Hansen claims to have raised $35,000 for her campaign. Her donors won’t be revealed until the next campaign finance reporting deadline on March 15. But I’ll bet I can rattle off most of them.
During the 2016 campaign cycle, then-minority leader Don Turner’s Common Sense PAC raised $56,000 and spent $47,000 without noticeably impacting the election results. Republicans had a 53-member caucus before the election, and still had 53 members afterward. Democrats lost two seats, one to a Progressive and one to an independent, emerging with an 83-person caucus. This, in spite of the fact that Phil Scott waltzed to the governorship at the top of the GOP ticket. No coattails.
Most of that Common Sense cash came from a familiar handful of conservative donors: the famously reclusive Lenore Broughton, the Broughton-controlled right-wing media outlet True North Reports (which effectively launders Broughton money, allowing her to skirt donation limits), fuel dealer “Skip” Vallee, former gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman, former Vermont lawmaker Joyce Errecart, and Tom and Carol Breuer, a Massachusetts couple known for bankrolling religious-right causes. Each of those individuals/entities donated a cool $4,000 to Turner’s PAC.
Most or all those people are almost certainly on Hansen’s early-donor list, probably at $4,000 apiece.
Turner spent most of the CSPAC money on consultants, including Hansen. Her firm, Pierson Harleth Co., collected nearly $17,000 from the PAC. A page on her professional website includes, according to the site itself, “the firm’s body of written work for the Caucus.”
The contents of that page? Four op-ed pieces.
Nice work if you can get it.
Now, undoubtedly Hansen did other kinds of work for the caucus. I certainly hope she did, because if four pieces of conservative boilerplate represented her full work product, I’d say Don Turner didn’t get his money’s worth. But even if she worked her assets off, she didn’t produce any measurable results.
Funny thing, when Turner ran for lieutenant governor in 2018, he didn’t include Hansen on his team. Fool me once, eh, Don?
So I don’t think the incumbent, David Zuckerman, is too worried about this new challenger. He trounced Turner by 18 percentage points in 2018, and Turner was much better-known and much more experienced than Hansen. She might make for some entertaining debates, but Zuckerman — assuming he runs for re-election as I believe he will, rather than seeking the governorship — should have no problem coasting to a third go-round in Vermont’s bucket of warm piss.