VTDigger Lets Carolyn Dwyer Throw a Dog Whistle Party — UPDATED

And updated again three days later in a separate post!

Curious thing happened today on VTDigger’s online dumpster commentary page. It was noteworthy for both its branding and its content.

The piece in question was written by Carolyn Dwyer, longtime Pat Leahy confidante and campaign manager. The headline: “What we need as Vermont’s federal delegation changes.”

What we need, according to Dwyer, is an unidentified individual who looks like Molly Gray, walks like Molly Gray, and quacks like Molly Gray. I assume Digger has a policy against actual endorsements on its commentary page, so Dwyer resorted to this cunning bit of subterfuge.

Before we get to the substance, I must address the brief identifier at the top of the essay.

This commentary is by Carolyn Dwyer of Burlington, a 25-year veteran of local and national Democratic politics. She has managed campaigns for Sen. Leahy and Congressman Welch and supported countless candidates for office at all levels in Vermont. She is not employed by any candidates for office in 2024.

Wait a minute. “Not employed by any candidates for office in 2024”?

What the blue hell?

UPDATE! Did someone at Digger read this piece? They’ve retroactively changed the Dwyer bio. Details below.

This would seem to be an inartful way to avoid disclosing the fact that Dwyer has, according to Digger’s own reportage, “played a leading role advising Gray’s campaign.” That’s Gray’s 2022 campaign, so the 2024 reference is true in letter if not in spirit.

Dwyer is also, according to the same Digger piece, the administrator of Leahy’s political action committee, which just funneled $5,000 to the Gray campaign fund.

So yeah, you may rightfully infer that Dwyer has a vested — and undisclosed by Digger — interest in this campaign.

Update Continued. The Dwyer bio has been changed, and now includes Dwyer’s role on the Gray campaign. No correction is acknowledged; there is no mention that the essay originally ran with a misleading bio. They just changed it. Sneaky.

Also, the new bio reveals the conflict of interest, which makes it obvious that publishing the piece in the first place was questionable at best.

Turning to the actual essay, Dwyer leans heavily on the loss of Congressional experience coming with Leahy’s retirement and the election of a brand-new U.S. Representative. Which leads to her pitch for The Unknown Duck: Vermont will need someone with “experience working in Congress.”


Gray did, you may recall, enjoy a cup of coffee on U.S. Rep. Peter Welch’s staff after he became a Congressperson in 2007 and then spent three years in D.C. working for the International Committee of the Red Cross. This is the famous “nearly half a decade” of Beltway service frequently claimed by Gray.

Which lends a bit of unearned gravitas that “four years” does not.

Anyway, that concept of “experience working in Congress” is doing a whole lot of heavy lifting here, and Dwyer hammers it repeatedly. She goes on to advocate for an anonymous candidate who can work “across the ideological divide.” As opposed to, um, a candidate *coughBeccaBalintcough* who’s been campaigning as a progressive Democrat and has earned the endorsement of Bernie Sanders?

If Vermonters elect another ideological warrior rather than someone focused on building consensus to get results, we run the risk of voting our little state into obscurity.

I don’t think she means Louis Meyers. It’s Becca Balint, “ideological warrior.”

It’s also an unveiled slap at Bernie, but hey.

Balint spent four years as Senate Majority Leader and (going on) two more as Senate President Pro Tem. In both jobs, the number-one task is bridging partisan and personal divides. That’s a huge task in in a Senate with so many big egos and senses of entitlement. Balint could not, by her position’s very nature, be an “ideological warrior.”

Dwyer also crams in a veiled shoutout to Gray’s international work by noting that Leahy has been “a moral voice on international issues.” Obviously we need us more of that, which fits nicely with Gray’s resume.

Balint? She’s spent all her time mucking about in Vermont.

But if she hasn’t spent time in the international arena, she has been doing some heavy-duty “pragmatic leadership” in the state Senate. Balint has far more experience at “pragmatic leadership” than does Gray.

This essay seems to be part of a Hail Mary pass from the Leahy camp, including his highly unusual endorsement of Gray and his disclosure of that $5,000 donation. Earlier in this campaign, he had said he wouldn’t endorse before the primary. But if the polls are accurate, his political right hand is facing an embarrassing defeat on Primary Day. Judging by these actions, I’d say the Leahy camp is a little desperate to avoid embarrassment. And avoid a defeat by proxy to Bernie Sanders.

No thanks to Digger for giving Dwyer the platform for her “non-endorsement.”


6 thoughts on “VTDigger Lets Carolyn Dwyer Throw a Dog Whistle Party — UPDATED

  1. Bill Lippert

    You must have gotten Digger’s attention, because by the time I read Carolyn Dwyer’s puff piece for Molly Gray, they had added the following to her intro: “She has served as a top unpaid adviser to Lt. Gov. Molly Gray’s congressional campaign.”

    Still a blatant promotion piece for the Gray campaign.

  2. Gregory Dennis

    Digger’s Commentary section is an online dumpster? Hey, watch it! I’ve thrown garbage in that dumpster!

    Twitter: @greengregdennis “We keep forgetting that we are the conscious witnesses of creation and the living vehicles of gratitude for the gift of life.”—Michael Meade        


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