Category Archives: Patrick Leahy

Bad days for the VTGOP

You could excuse Phil Scott for feeling down in the dumps these days. There was the ice-bath shock of the VPR Poll, showing a dead heat in the race for governor. Then came a huge weekend of high-energy unity rallies for the Democratic ticket featuring Bernie Sanders, Pat Leahy, and Peter Welch thumping the tub for Sue Minter ad company, plus President Obama cutting a radio spot for her.

And now comes an ABC News poll showing Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 12 percentage points.

The growing gap is bad enough, but the worse news for Scott is deeper in the poll results.

The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.

That’s a tangible sign that Trump is becoming a dead weight on down-ballot Republicans. And more evidence that Phil Scott has his work cut out for him, in what was once thought to be a cakewalk for the VTGOP’s King-in-Waiting.

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Bernie Steps Up (and Pat Already Has)

Time for a follow-up to my recent post about the lack of support for Sue Minter from Vermont’s Congressional delegation. First, the good news:

Yep, that’s Bernie Sanders deigning to appear at not one, but two rallies on behalf of Sue Minter and the Democratic ticket. I’ll step out on a short limb here and predict that we’ll see more such events before Election Day. Extra added bonus: the involvement of Rights & Democracy. It’s nice to see them make the smart political calculation that a moderately liberal Democrat is a better choice than a questionably center-right Republican.

This erases the only question surrounding Bernie’s endorsement of the Democratic ticket last week: would he step up, step out, and make a public effort on their behalf? The answer is a developing but hearty “Yes!”

And now, the senior Senator from Vermont, Pat Leahy. Last week, I wondered why he hadn’t been more public with his backing of Minter. Well, that post generated a response from the Leahy camp listing all the times and places that the good Senator had appeared with Minter or acted on her behalf.

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The nastiest campaign in Vermont history?

Scott Milne is running a truly bizarre campaign, entirely based on attacking incumbent Sen. Patrick Leahy. Milne’s entire “platform” consists of (1) Pat Leahy’s been in Washington too long, and (2) he’s been a successful fundraiser. Like Rudy Giuliani and “9/11,” Milne can’t open his mouth without the number “42”, as in Leahy’s tenure in the Senate, tumbling out. Milne has made no effort to outline policy differences or present his own ideas.

This may not be the nastiest campaign in state history; God knows the 19th Century featured tactics that might make Donald Trump blush. But it’s certainly the nastiest campaign in living memory.

And it’s getting worse, and louder, and nastier.

Start with Milne’s weekend rejection of Trump. He couldn’t get through three paragraphs without a gratuitous slam at Leahy. In fact, the Leahy slam was the lede in Milne’s statement.

Then came the news that Vice President Biden will campaign in Vermont. Milne couldn’t stop himself:

 “Sen. Leahy and Vice President Biden have spent the past 42 years together in Washington, and they both supported Hillary Clinton against Bernie, so it is not surprising that they would be campaigning together.”

A sensible candidate would have kept his mouth shut. Why call attention to a high-profile fundraiser benefiting your opponent? But Milne appears to suffer from a unique variant of Tourette’s, which compels him to whine about Pat Leahy with every breath he takes.

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Get on the bus

I have this crazy notion.

I see a luxury bus, decked out with signs and photos of the Democrats’ statewide candidates. I see it spending a long weekend barnstorming around Vermont, stopping in various towns and cities.

Inside the bus, I see Sue Minter, Pat Leahy, Peter Welch, and Bernie Sanders, plus David Zuckerman, TJ Donovan, Jim Condos, Beth Pearce, and Doug Hoffer*. Legislative candidates join them for rallies held within their districts.

*Random order. Please take no offense, Doug.  

The events draw substantial media coverage and energize the party faithful. They showcase liberal politicians united behind a single ticket — and, most crucially, a gubernatorial candidate in an uphill battle against a popular Republican.

What would it do for Sue Minter to have Vermont’s very popular heavyweights actively showing their support? It might just be the thing to put her over the top.

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So that’s what it took

As Vermont Republicans desperately flee the sinking, and stinking, Good Ship Trump, it’s not at all surprising that the most ungainly lifeboat leap was executed by Senate nominee Scott MIlne. In ending his months of indecision on whether to endorse Trump, Milne tried to blame it all on — you guessed it — Pat Leahy.

“I was hoping to make it to a debate with Pat Leahy before talking specifically about the presidential contest, and the differences between Leahy and me regarding our treatment of candidates. But, Pat Leahy’s debate dodging, coupled with the embarrassing and completely inappropriate things that have been confirmed about Donald Trump, force me to speak,” said Milne.

… “I will not vote for Donald Trump, and I would respect his decision to step aside,” Milne concluded.

So he’d vote for extreme conservative anti-choice Mike Pence if given the opportunity?

I have no idea what he means by “the differences between Leahy and me regarding our treatment of candidates.” Would he bring up Bill Clinton’s scandals? Or maybe Chappaquiddick?

Whatever, the idea that Milne was holding off on a Trump decision turns out to be complete horseshit. Because we can pinpoint exactly when Milne made his decision. It was during a 20-minute period on Saturday afternoon.

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Campaign finance according to Deb Bucknam

The Republican candidate for Attorney General, Deb Bucknam, has a… shall we say unique… approach to the issue of money in politics. The problem, in her eyes, isn’t corporate donations or Citizens United or the Koch Brothers or dark-money SuperPACs or outside interests flooding Vermont with their barely regulated and lavishly funded nonprofits.

None of that. The real problem is Pat Leahy.

Hey. You in the back, stop laughing.

Bucknam laid out her reasoning, if that’s what you can call it, in an interview with Chris Lenois of Brattleboro’s WKVT Radio. (The interview also ran on Brattleboro’s community access cable channel and can be seen here.)

It should be noted that elsewhere, Bucknam has offered a full-throated defense of the Citizens United decision. In fact, she claims that overturning Citizens United would inevitably involve limiting the First Amendment rights of all Americans.

Back to the Lenois interview. He asked a question about regulating money in politics.  She began by asserting that money is a necessary part of politics and trying to regulate it is doomed to failure. But she sees one ray of hope:

If we limited — not donors so much — but candidates themselves, how a candidate can spend the money they receive, that may help solve the money in politics problem.

At this point, I was honesty puzzled. What in the Sam Hill was she driving at?

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Party of One

The leader of the State House’s perpetually undersized Republican caucus is feeling his oats.

[House] Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, said he believes the Republican Party can increase its presence in the chamber from the current 53 seats to 76 — a majority.

I understand it’s part of his job to put on a brave face, but there is no way on God’s green Earth that the Republicans rack up a net gain of 23 House seats. After all, 2014 was a horrible year for Vermont Democrats; their ticket-topper was the roundly unpopular Peter Shumlin, there was no race for President or U.S. Senator, and turnout was dramatically depressed. And even with all that in their favor, the VTGOP only managed a net gain of eight seats in the House.

Eight.

And 2016 should be a bounceback year for the House Democrats. (More on this below.)

There’s also the inconvenient fact that the House Republicans’ campaign warchest appears to be in the red. According to its most recent campaign finance filing, the Vermont House Republican PAC has raised $5,095 this campaign cycle and spent $7,832.74. That dip into penury was triggered by an Attorney General’s ruling that the PAC had improperly accepted contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session. It had to return $3,000 in donations and pay a $2,000 fine.

So, no help there. But it’s not like the VHRPAC is alone. Pretty much every Republican aside from Phil Scott is begging for spare change.

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