What This Campaign Needs Is a Fake Cop Car

This is a new one.

The vehicle pictured above is not a police car. It’s been made to look as much like a police car as possible. It’s got black police-style wheel rims, a push bumper on the front, and some kind of roof rack whose front panel is shiny plastic. At a glance, it’d look like a police light bar. But the very police-y looking lettering on the side says “MAYNARD for Vermont House of Representatives.”

That would be Alan Maynard, candidate for House in the Franklin-1 district. My first thought, uncharitably, was that he must be a Blue Lives Matter type Republican. But he’s not. He’s a Democrat.

And he’s a professor at the University of Vermont. He’s had a long career as a college-level athletic trainer and now serves as Director of Athletic Training Education in UVM’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. He’s also vice-chair of the Fairfax Select Board.

The Franklin-1 district got quite the makeover in this year’s reapportionment process. The old district was a one-seater centered on the town of Georgia; its representative has been the extremely conservative Republican Carl Rosenquist, who is not running for re-election in the new Franklin-1. The district will now include the towns of Georgia and Fairfax, and will elect two representatives in November.

Fairfax and environs used to be in Franklin-2, a single-seater represented by Republican-leaning Independent Barbara Murphy, also not seeking re-election. (The new Franklin-2 is north of St. Albans.)

There are four candidates for the two Franklin-1 seats, two Democrats and two Republicans. No primary contests, just straight on to November (barring an astoundingly successful write-in campaign). The Republicans, who would seem to be the favorites, are Ashley Bartley, who works for a property management firm, and former state representative and senator Carolyn Whitney Branagan.

The Democrats are Maynard and Devon Thomas, a minister who serves churches in Bakersfield, Hyde Park, and Jeffersonville.

Given that the old Franklin-1 and -2 elected a very conservative Republican and a right-leaning Independent, one could fairly surmise that the new Franklin-1 will have a distinctly Republican lean. One might then surmise that Maynard’s fake cop car is an attempt to appeal to the law-and-order vote?

I don’t know. That seems too crass, even for a wannabe politico. But I can say this: Maynard is dancing close to the line between Halloween and impersonating a police officer. If the car actually has a working light bar and a siren, that would be bad. From what I can tell, it’s definitely forbidden to put the word “Police” anywhere on the vehicle, which Maynard did not do, or to actually identify yourself as an officer. Does he campaign in a fake uniform?

It’s an odd bit of campaign cosplay, in any case. I wonder if it’s in the Vermont Democratic Party’s “How to Run for House” playbook.

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