The Empire Strikes Back?

Well, that [seemingly] came out of nowhere.

Ted Kenney, an attorney from Williston, told VTDigger he’s thinking about a primary challenge to incumbent Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah Fair George.

Under normal circumstances, this could be labeled “quixotic” but without the raffish charm of the original Quixote. Primarying an incumbent in a race that few people pay any attention to?

Why bother?

Well, I think I know why.

I think he thinks there’s a substantial constituency who prefer a more traditional approach to the office instead of George’s pioneering progressivism. And he may well be right, at least in terms of the power brokers and royal families and business-class donors in the county party.

Kenney’s run, if he makes one, is of a piece with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger’s consistent pro-police stance — and whatever touched off the departure of Tyeastia Green, the first director of the Burlington Racial Equity Inclusion and Belonging Department (REIB) and the resignation of three of the REIB’s four managers.

If you’d like details about Weinberger’s law-n-order policies, click on the first link. Mark Hughes of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance runs down the ways that Weinberger — once he was safely re-elected with a plurality of the votes in a race against two progressive challengers — laid down the velvet glove in favor of an iron fist.

And he keeps waving the bloody flag, depicting the Queen City as a lawless wasteland whose handful of police officers dare not walk the streets. If Miro thinks that’s smart politics, is it any wonder that Kenney believes he could beat George by running to her right?

Doubtless he has some top Dems and big donors whispering in his ear, if not waving checkbooks in his direction.

Speaking of which, I’ve been told by two sources that Kenney held a big fundraiser last Friday. That’s within the bounds of the law if all he did was collect pledges of support. If he accepted actual donations without having first registered his candidacy with the Secretary of State’s office, well, that’d be illegal.

And a bad first step for someone seeking to become the county’s top prosecutor.

Anyway. We’ve heard plenty of talk from the downtown business community that crime is out of control and that the homeless have to be given places to go or at least sent somewhere else. Those people are among the most generous political donors in the city. Under normal circumstances, they’d be giving to Republicans or strateglically splitting their donations. But since the Republican Party as represented by the likes of Christopher-Aaron Felker and Ericka Redic has made itself irrelevant and unpalatable, those donors have only one place to go.

And when they go there, they drive the Democratic Party toward the center. It’s hard to resist the allure of catering to those deep-pocketed free agents, but it serves to widen the split between Democrats and Progressives.

A split that needs no encouragement, really. Weinberger and the City Council Progs have been at odds for quite some time. And, going all the way back to Mayor Bernie, the Dems resent it whenever the Progs horn in on their rightful place as political gods of the city.

Once upon a time, Sarah Fair George was a member of the in-crowd. She was a deputy to then-state’s attorney TJ Donovan. When Donovan became attorney general, she was one of three people recommended by the Chittenden County Democratic Committee to succeed him.

(The other two? Bram Kranichfeld and, um, Ted Kenney, both of whom got more votes than George. But Gov. Phil Scott picked her. I suspect he has regrets.)

Since then, George has steered her own course. Does this spark resentment among the royal families of the city party, including Donovan’s own? Do they, and the party’s business donors, feel dismay at the possibility that George might be our next attorney general whenever Donovan finally decides to run for something else?

Says here, yes and yes.

Now that we’re safely past the March 15 campaign finance filing deadline, we won’t know who’s behind Kenney until the next deadline of July 15. If he does, in fact, throw his proverbial hat in that metaphorical ring. And if he does, you can expect a rich haul from the Better Class of Burlingtonians.

No matter how much he collects, Kenney faces an uphill battle to beat an incumbent in a primary. He’ll need enough cash to blitz our biggest media markets with anti-crime, pro-police messages casting George as the villain.

Woof, that’d be nasty. But definitely not out of the question. The Empire feels aggrieved, and that’s never a good thing.

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