Timely, that. Two months until the primary, five months before the election, she’s up against Peter Welch, the well-known and -liked and ridiculously well-funded U.S. Representative seeking to make the leap to the Senate. Given her dismal first-quarter fundraising haul, one suspects that the hiring delay was more financially motivated than anything else.
And of course, with no time for a new staffer to get a feel for the quirky politics of Vermont, she hired a complete outsider: Jake Monssen of the Mississippi-based consultancy Triumph Strategies.
I don’t need to remind you that outsiders who parachute into our brave-ish little state have a record of helming generic campaigns that fail to resonate. Who’s gonna ask him how many teats on a Holstein?
Monssen is touted as an experienced conservative campaign operative. But his resumé includes no blue states, or even purple ones. Until now, he has operated entirely in deep red precincts.
Monssen is fresh off a humiliating defeat at the hands of U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in last month’s Georgia primary. MTG had faced five challengers and racked up 70% of the vote. Monssen repped Jennifer Strahan, who finished second with only 17%.
Monssen fared even worse in 2020 when he worked for Todd McMurtry, who challenged renegade U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie in the Kentucky Republican primary. The result? Massie 88%, McMurtry 12%.
But take heart, he doesn’t always lose. He doesn’t always work for mainstream Republicans either. He was a staffer on Kristi Noem’s successful run for governor of South Dakota, and held a position in her administration for a year-plus.
Yeah, the Kristi Noem who was a loud-and-proud Covid denialist, signed a bill barring transgender women and girls from participating in women’s sports, and was caught in controversy for allegedly intervening with a state official to get her daughter a real estate appraiser’s license.
There was enough stink around the latter event that State Attorney general Jason Ravnsborg asked the state’s accountability board to look into it.
Ravnsborg, that paragon of ethics who killed a guy and lied about it and got away with it.
But I digress. Monssen is the fourth of four principals in Triumph Campaigns which, sadly, has no connection to The Comic Insult Dog. The firm’s website touts Monssen as “a veteran grassroots coordinator and constituent services representative.” I don’t know how they define “veteran,” because the earliest specific marker on his bio is serving on Noem’s first campaign for governor.
Four years ago.
I’ll bet you dollars to donuts the guy is under 30.
Since he left South Dakota, Monssen has run two disastrous primary campaigns. Ya think maybe his superiors pawn him off on the most hopeless cases who show up on their doorstep?
Whatever. Monssen is now conductor of the Nolan Train. I’d expect color-by-numbers conservative campaign tactics with no particular adjustment to the vagaries of Vermont.
But at minimum, Monssen’s presence should bring an end to the embarrassing campaign videos and political cartoons that have threatened to turn the Nolan campaign into a political punchline. Her candidacy is almost certainly doomed, but from now on it should at least achieve cromulent professionalism. Which would be less embarrassing for Nolan, but a great loss for the humorous side of #vtpoli.