Category Archives: David Sunderland

Coyote over the cliff

Oh, here comes David Sunderland, woebegone chair of the Vermont Republican Party, with his biennial tradition: the totally cooked-up accusation that the Secretary of State has his finger on the electoral scale.

I suppose it’s only natural. After all, Republican Secretaries of State have a long and sordid tradition of playing partisan games. (See: Kris Kobach, Ken Blackwell, and Katherine Harris) But our guy, Jim Condos, may be a solid Democrat, but he’s never given any hint of impropriety in the handling of his official duties.

TFW you've hit "Send" on a stupid press release.

TFW you’ve just been @pwned by Jim Condos..

Still,;like Wile E. Coyote chasing the roadrunner, Sunderland can’t stop himself from trying. Remember two years ago, when he accused an Elections Office employee of partisan bias — without a single shred of evidence that the worker had acted improperly? Sunderland didn’t give a damn about imperiling a man’s career and good name, if he could score a few partisan points in so doing.

This time, Sunderland is raising a stink about the distribution of ballots for the November elections. He notes that different communities are getting ballots at different times. Some have already started mailing ballots to voters who want to vote early.

He raises an “equal protection issue” with some voters getting their ballots earlier than others, and thus having more time to ponder their choices.

Uh-huh. Like those voters are going to spend from now until Election Eve intensively studying their choices — and people who dot n’t their ballots until sometime next week will never be able to catch up.

But that’s not all.

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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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The “moderate” VTGOP is a mythical beast

A few interesting things came out of the Vermont Republican Convention on Saturday — besides revealing that Phil Scott can’t take a rhetorical punch.

I thought it shone a harsh and unforgiving light on the idea that Vermont Republicans are a breed apart — the last surviving redoubt of moderate Republicanism. That’s largely a fiction created in a desperate effort to appeal to the liberal Vermont electorate. It takes on the veneer of reality thanks to the thoroughly moderate image of Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. But the party ranks are full of garden-variety 21st Century Republicanism. Vermont Republicans may have thrown in the towel on social issues like marriage equality and abortion rights*, but they are a stoutly conservative bunch when it comes to brass-tacks issues like government spending, regulation, and taxation.

*Well, let’s say they are withholding the towel. I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts they’d change their tune if they ever achieved political power.

After all, this is a party that eagerly embraced John Kasich, a man whose tax plan would make Ronald Reagan blush with embarrassment. George W. Bush, too, for that matter.

But there were signs aplenty at the Convention that this is a party with a strongly conservative core.

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The VTGOP’s convention dilemma

This coming weekend will feature the Democratic (Saturday Sunday in Barre) and Republican (Sunday Saturday in Burlington) state conventions. The Dems will be trying to accommodate the Bernie Sanders crowd enough to forestall any open warfare; and the four superdelegates who plan to support Hillary Clinton are girding themselves for a Bernie Bro onslaught.

But the real entertainment value is likely to come from the Republican gathering, where party leaders and potential candidates will have to deal with the unpleasant fact of Donald Trump at the top of their ticket.

And the national GOP is sending a clear message to state parties: Bow Down Before The Donald.

Republican activists chose party unity over “never Trump” resistance Saturday, with party leaders in one state after another pressuring their members to fall in line behind the presumptive nominee — and even punishing those who refused.

Eleven states held annual Republican conventions or party leadership meetings Saturday, offering a platform for those who still object to Donald Trump… But at almost every turn, they slammed into state leaders who closed ranks around a candidate who many once said they’d never support.

Interesting moment for Phil Scott, the VTGOP’s shining star and likely gubernatorial nominee. If the convention falls in line with Trump, he’ll be an isolated, neutered figure in his own party.

Especially if his challenger Bruce Lisman chooses that moment to finally endorse Trump — which he’s almost certain to do sometime.

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VTGOP Statement on Leadership Provides Exactly None

When I first saw this on Twitter, I must confess I got a little bit excited.

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Here, at last, was something I’d been hoping for but not really expecting: an actual statement from Vermont Republicans on their party’s sorry-ass presidential field. Which is a problem for the VTGOP, because no matter which candidate gets the nomination, he or she will certainly be a drag on the VTGOP’s ticket — while either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders promise to spark high turnout among Democratic voters.

So what wisdom does VTGOP chair David Sunderland offer at this difficult time?

Er, nothing.

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He shoots — and misses! Again!

In basketball, there’s a derogatory term often applied to very good players: “Volume shooter.” It refers to a skilled offensive player who hogs the ball and shoots a lot. If most of ‘em go in, it’s good. But when he’s missing, he keeps on shooting, often to the detriment of his team.

The NBA’s current king of volume shooting is the formerly great Kobe Bryant, limping through his final season with stat lines like 7 for 26 (12/1 loss to Philadelphia), 4 for 20 (11/29 loss to Indiana) and 6 for 22 (11/22 loss to Portland). Enough bricks to build a full-scale replica of the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

The #1 volume shooter in Vermont politics is David Sunderland, chair of the Vermont Republican Party. He’ll fire off a press release whenever he sees the faintest opening to score a political point. Like the 2015 Kobe, he shoots a lot but seldom scores. Unlike the real Kobe, he doesn’t have a Hall of Fame career in the rear-view.

Sunderland’s latest desperation heave is a thoroughly nasty (even by his standards) attack on Governor Shumlin for having the audacity to attend the Global Climate Summit in Paris. He begins by totting up the imagined sins and shortfalls of the Shumlin administration, and then gets to the red meat:

While we can appreciate why you would want to leave your many problems behind for a few days, that’s not leadership. And it’s certainly not the job you were narrowly re-elected to do.

It is not necessary for you to attend this meeting. It would be far more economical — and far more environmentally responsible — to send your thoughts in writing or attend by video conference. You’ve frequently touted the state’s telecommunication advances — you should be taking advantage of them now.

The whole thing reads like that. Never does Sunderland pass up an opportunity for snark.

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Bizarro Dave

I’m writing an awful lot about David Sunderland lately, but then he’s been doing a lot of dumb stuff lately. And this tidbit is the cherry on his hacktastic sundae.

The Vermont Press Bureau’s Josh O’Gorman did a writeup of the VTGOP chair’s latest stunt — the anti-carbon tax website, which seeks to blame Democrats for something that’s not going to happen.

And deep within the article, I discovered the source of Sunderland’s difficulty with facts.

David Sunderland (not exactly as illustrated)

David Sunderland (not exactly as illustrated)

He appears to live in an alternate dimension, with a parallel but very different set of events. Look:

Sunderland said he believes a carbon tax could be in the cards come January.

“It’s possible this will happen,” Sunderland said. “If you look to the past, nobody in million years would have ever thought we would enact state-run, single-payer health care, but it happened.”

Whaaaaaat?

Vermont has a state-run, single-payer health care system?

How did I miss that?

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