Category Archives: Bruce Lisman

What if Phil Scott loses?

In my second-most-recent post, I listed all the bad news visited upon Vermont Republicans over the past few days. I ended by asking “What if Phil Scott loses?”

I’ll get to that question, but in the meantime, WCAX released its own poll showing Scott with a seven-point lead over Sue Minter, which has triggered much rejoicing Chez Phil.

In his lede, WCAX’s usually reliable Kyle Midura made an unwarranted inference: since the VPR Poll had shown a statistical dead heat, the TV poll shows that Scott is “pulling ahead.”

Which, c’mon now. These are two polls from different organizations with possibly differing methodologies. (We don’t know because WCAX hasn’t released any details. VPR has disclosed all of that.) Drawing that direct a line between the two polls is misleading at best.

What we have are two data points. One (VPR) from an in-state academic polling outfit, one (WCAX) from a New Jersey-based for-profit firm.

Pollster Paul Braun engaged in some speculation that ought to unnerve those placing a lot of weight on his survey. He credited the WCAX gubernatorial debate for driving Scott’s alleged momentum — when, in fact, debate audiences tend to be very small, and the impact of debates on public opinion is also small. (Unless you pull a Trump, of course.) There is no evidence to support Braun’s assertion.

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A moment of dismay, dissipated

I was skimming around in campaign finance reports the other day*, when I came across something that made me say “Hmm.” And here it is:

Lisman donation

This is taken from the latest campaign finance filing of Common Sense Leadership PAC, House Minority Leader Don Turner’s slush fund political action committee. It indicates that one Bruce Lisman made a donation of $4,000 to CSLPAC on October 11.

Bruce Lisman. Of 716 Kipling Street, Houston, Texas.

Oh please, say it ain’t so, Bruce. Say you haven’t left us for a warm-weather tax haven. Especially after a campaign full of bumpf about what a true-blue Son of Vermont you were.

Reinforcing my curiosity were the fact that Lisman’s Twitter feed has been inactive since August 10, his campaign’s Facebook page was last updated on August 15, and his campaign website has been consigned to the same Internet purgatory populated by the remnants of AngelFire and GeoCities.

(Kids, ask your parents.)

Fortunately, I’ve been reassured by Lisman’s costly campaign manager, Shawn Shouldice:

Have no fear Bruce is still very much in Vermont.

Whew.

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Phil Scott Makes Tax Cut Plan Somewhat Less Awful

It hasn’t been that long since Phil Scott unveiled his glossy 39-page economic plan, but he’s already acknowledging one major mistake.

As the Vermont Press Bureau’s Neal Goswami reported over the weekend, Scott’s plan to cut capital gains taxes was based on Vermont’s old tax formula. As a result, the Scott campaign has watered down its cap-gains proposal.

Details in a moment. But first, let’s just put this out there:

[Cutting the capital gains tax] would spur tax shelters, generate little new saving, give a windfall to the wealthy, and make long-term budget problems even worse.

That’s from the commie-pinkos at the Brookings Institution. There’s plenty where that came from; the consensus among experts (not employed by the Cato Institute and other right-wing policy shops) is that capital gains tax cuts are, at best, a grossly inefficient way to spur economic growth. At worst, they’re a pointless squandering of resources.

But let’s return to Phil Scott’s plan, before and after. This will get into the weeds of tax policy, so my apologies in advance. I’ll try to keep things simple.

Vermont used to allow taxpayers to exclude 40 percent of their capital gains. That was killed in 2009, in favor of an exclusion for the first $2,500 in capital gains. The change was designed to concentrate the tax benefits at lower income levels; whether you got $2,500 in capital gains or $2,500,000, you got the same tax break.

Scott’s original plan would have restored the 40 percent exclusion.

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@VTGOP: The King and no court

So the inevitable happened in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Phil Scott won.

The sad thing is, Bruce Lisman actually did pretty darn good. He got all the way from four percent in a February poll to 39 percent in the primary. That’s respectable, really.

But it leaves you wondering, again, what the hell? Why did Lisman challenge the widely-beloved Republican Great White Hope? Why did he pump two million Bruce Bucks into a doomed effort?

Mmm, smooth. (Photo by Mike Polhamus of VTDigger.)

Mmm, smooth. (Photo by Mike Polhamus of VTDigger.)

He does have some lovely bottled water to show for it. That’ll taste nice, as a visual reminder of the second-worst day of his life. (And a metaphorical reminder of how he flushed a fortune down the drain on a wasteful, futile candidacy.)

I’m assuming his worst day was when Bear Stearns collapsed, although this is a more directly personal ignominy. The Wall Street meltdown was merely a global calamity; this is the people of Vermont telling you to your face, “We don’t want you, now please go away.”

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The Lisman/Scott imbroglio

In its closing days, the Republican gubernatorial campaign has turned into a game of Crying Foul, in which accuracy takes a back seat to volume.

The latest round kicked off Friday evening, when Bruce Lisman’s campaign issued a press release crying foul over an alleged push poll aiming to convince Lisman supporters to abandon their man — and telling those who stuck with him “don’t forget to vote on August 23rd.”

The primary is, of course, August 9th. Team Lisman essentially accused Phil Scott of being behind the push poll, and called on him to denounce the apparent dirty trick.

Team Phil Scott responded by, yep, crying foul over what it called negative campaigning by a desperate opponent. And Scott’s chosen VTGOP chair, David Sunderland, waded in with an even louder cry of his own. He called on Lisman…

… to prove or withdraw an accusation that rival Phil Scott was behind a series of phone calls attempting to deceive voters.

His intervention might prove embarrassing should Lisman win the primary. Probably won’t happen, but the picture of Sunderland and Lisman shaking hands would be worth a thousand words.

So here’s what I think.

I think the push polls are real. I don’t think Phil Scott is behind them, or had anything to do with them. I suspect an outside Super PAC or some other agency unrelated to Scott. Lisman’s attempts to tie the push poll directly to Scott are very close to the line; but he’s right in saying that Scott ought to denounce the push poll instead of denying its existence and trashing Lisman.

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Right to Life might want to hire a proofreader (UPDATED)

UPDATE: I got this wrong. According to Sharon Torborg of the Right to Life Fund, state law requires that any name mentioned in campaign material must be reported on the Secretary of State’s mass media form. RTL endorsed Carolyn Branagan for Senate, and also mentioned the other two Republican candidates, Norm McAllister and Dustin Degree.

The Right to Life Fund is not endorsing Norm McAllister. My apologies to Ms. Torborg and the rest of the RTL crew. 

There’s a couple things I’m getting really tired of, as the primary campaigns enter the homestretch. The first is candidates whining about “Washington-style” attack ads. C’mon, folks, even in Vermont, politics ain’t beanbag.

The second is candidates bemoaning an influx of out-of-state money on behalf of their opponents — especially when the moaners are getting major outside backing themselves. None of these people are pure as the driven snow, and their complaints ring hollow in my ears.

So I don’t have much to say about the ex-Bear Stearns executives creating a Super PAC in support of Bruce Lisman, or EMILY’s List pouring $100K into pro-Minter ads, or a Silicon Valley tycoon spending twice as much for Matt Dunne. It’s the way the game is played in our post-Citizens United world, and any politico not named Bernie Sanders is practicing unilateral disarmament if they don’t take advantage of every available resource, The Vermont Way be damned.

But there is one recent mass-media spending report that should not pass unnoticed. It involves far less money, but there are a couple of things you should know.

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The VPR Poll: Pants On Fire, and other observations

Rich Clark was worried about inaccurate results. That’s why he didn’t want to survey Vermonters about their preferences in the August primary.

Okay, but when you look at the results of his VPR Poll, you realize that some of those people are lying their asses off. Which kinda makes the whole accuracy concern seem a bit irrelevant.

The biggest whoppers came when respondents were asked how likely they are to vote. 87 percent said they were very or somewhat likely to vote in November. In actual fact, we’ll be lucky to hit 60.

As for the primary, 68 percent claim to be very or somewhat likely to vote. More than half of those people are lying. The biggest primary turnouts in recent years were 23 percent in 2010 and 30 percent in 2000, the year of the Great “Take Back Vermont” freakout.

Which makes me wonder. If that many people are lying about that, why should we believe the rest of their answers?

After the jump: analysis of their possibly truthful answers. 

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