Category Archives: Peter Welch

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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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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Is there a fight brewing over the Enterprise Fund?

Earlier today, VTDigger broke the news that the state Emergency Board (four top lawmakers plus the Governor) had met on very (VERY) short notice to approve two state grants from the Enterprise Fund: $1 million to GlobalFoundries and $200,000 to BHS Composites. And I commented that this is the kind of thing that makes some see the Governor as a slippery dealmaker.

Well, here’s something you didn’t know. TheVPO has learned, as they say, that 50 state lawmakers wrote a letter to the Emergency Board asking it to postpone action on the grants.

The plea fell mostly on deaf ears, as the Board approved the grant on a 3-1 vote.

One of the letter’s signatories was Rep. Chris Pearson (P-Burlington). Via email, he explained the reasoning:

It was my hope that we could consider using the money to help fill the [FY 2017] budget gap or, more urgently, the [FY 2016] budget adjustment challenge.

The letter was written before the EB’s agenda had been publicly warned — which happened only yesterday afternoon. Pearson adds:

Now that it’s clear the money was for Global Foundries it’s puzzling how a company that was given $1.4 billion to take over the plant could find $1 million much of a game changer.

You and me both, but more on that in a moment. First, the political ramifications of this letter.

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Mr. Donka’s regrettable Facebook page

I sure hope the Vermont Republican Party can recruit a credible candidate to run against Congressman Peter Welch in 2016. Because if they leave the spot open for the likes of Mark Donka like they did in 2012 and 2014, they might suffer a wee bit of embarrassment. Because even as Phil Scott has been busily distancing himself from the far-right extremism of the Republican presidential field, the same sort of harsh rhetoric can be found in abundance on Donka’s Facebook page.

Which is basically a bunch of reposted Tea Party visuals full of conspiracy thinking, climate change denial, fear and hatred.

Some of which are also, um, fake.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 2.53.40 AM

Yeah, Mark? That never happened.

A photograph of Hillary Clinton shaking hands with terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has circulated online (divorced from its original context) ever since it was created for a Photoshop contest held back in 2007 by the web site FreakingNews.com.

Wups.

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Bunched Knicker Syndrome Strikes Top Solon

BKS: “a sense of heightened distress keenly felt by the self-important following a minor annoyance.”

Kudos to WCAX-TV’s Kyle Midura for coming up with a frothy little confection of a political story that’s sweet to the taste, vanishes in the mouth like a good meringue, and leaves you wanting just one more bite. Or maybe the whole damn pie.

The story’s about the Tuesday “news event” featuring Congressman Peter Welch and Transportation Secretary Sue Minter at a photogenically decrepit bridge in East Montpelier. They were backdropped by lime green and orange-vested construction workers as they bemoaned the lack of Congressional action on long-term transportation funding.

And it seems that there are some hurt fee-fees from a pair of politicos who think they ought to have been invited. Republican Pat Brennan, chair of the House Transportation Committee, and might-as-well-be-a-Republican Dick Mazza, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, were left jonesin’ for a little camera time.

“We are heavily involved, so you would think we would’ve been asked to be there,” said Rep. Pat Brennan, R-Colchester.

As for Mazza, he cemented his well-earned reputation as the least Democratic of all Democrats by complaining that the presser included a partisan attack on Republicans in Congress. That’s right: a Democrat accusing Democrats of playing politics. The horror!

“I was told that it was a non-partisan news conference, but I didn’t see anyone other than the Democrats,” said Mazza.

Wait wait. He “was told”? That seems to imply he knew about the presser in advance. If so, he’s got no complaint. But let’s move on.

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Welch declines the honor

Okay, so I’m on the air live this morning on The Mark Johnson Show. House Speaker Shap Smith, openly considering a run for governor but waiting to see what Congressman Peter Welch would do, has just left after a 45-minute interview. I’ve got Randy Brock, once and (possibly) future Republican candidate, sitting with me in the studio waiting for his interview to start.

And then, in rapid-fire succession, the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality is released… and I find out that Welch has just announced he will not run for governor, but will instead seek re-election to Congress.

Trust me, I didn’t need any coffee to get through that hour. I missed the chance to break the news to Speaker Smith, which would have just been the most fun thing ever. (As of this writing, I’m seeking reaction from him.) I did get to break the news to Brock, which was pretty fun itself.

Live radio, I love thee.

Brock, by the way, said that Welch’s status was one factor in his consideration, but only one of “300 or 400” things he’s weighing. But he sure seemed like he’s rarin’ to go.

Back to the main issue here. How does the Welch decision affect the race?

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