Category Archives: Roger Allbee

Strange bedfellows

Just saw Peter Galbraith’s first TV ad. The most interesting thing in it was the last line:

“Roger Allbee, Treasurer.”

Hmm. Roger Allbee. Lifelong Republican. Agriculture Secretary in the Jim Douglas administration. In 2014, he became a Democratic candidate for State Senate in WIndham County — without actually becoming, you know, a Democrat.

He was effectively running to fill the vacancy opened by Peter Galbraith’s decision not to seek re-election. He enjoyed Galbraith’s endorsement.

He also committed a world-class gaffe at a candidates’ forum:

Whoever is elected represents all the people, whether they’re Democrat, Republican, they’re colored, they have alternative preferences, we represent everyone in the county. Everyone. We represent every citizen.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Looks like Windham County has dodged a Republicrat bullet.

 

Might be jumping the gun, but as of this writing, with 20 of 24 precincts reporting, “The Artful Roger” Allbee is trailing in his bid to snatch one of Windham County’s two Democratic State Senate nominations.

Currently, incumbent Jeanette White has a substantial lead, with 40% of the vote. Safe to say she’s carried through. Democrat Becca Balint is second with 28%, and the longtime Republican Allbee, he of the unfortunate references to “colored” folks and those with “alternative preferences,” has 22%. Joan Bowman is trailing badly, with less than 9%.

It’d take a dramatic reversal for Allbee to edge out Balint. In an extremely low-turnout election, she has 1251 votes to Allbee’s 1020. To win, he’d have to substantially outpace Balint in the few remaining precincts. (Townshend, where he lives, has already reported, so no help there.

So, at the risk of premature blogulation, allow me to bid a fond farewell to The Artful Roger’s attempt to be a kinda-sorta Democrat. And congratulations to the voters of Windham County for choosing two real, actual Democrats for State Senate.

Oh, and allow me to send a big fat “HA HA!” to The Slummin’ Solon, Peter Galbraith, who tried to handpick Allbee as his successor. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass, Petey.

 

The Artful Roger has a moment of artlessness

 Oh dear. The Republicrat candidate for State Senate in Windham County, Roger Allbee, put his foot in it last week.

For those just joining us, The Artful Roger is a longtime Republican who served as Agriculture Secretary under Jim Douglas, but he’s now running in the Democratic primary because, well, a Republican can’t possibly win in Windham. Or because of principle, your choice.

Anyway, there he was on August 21 at the American Legion Post 5 in lovely Brattleboro, along with the three actual Democrats in the race: incumbent Jeanette White, plus Becca Balint and Joan Bowman. Fortunately for all of us, the local community access cable folks recorded the event and posted it online. So we can all witness Allbee’s closing statement, which included the following example of acute political tone-deafness:

Whoever is elected represents all the people, whether they’re Democrat, Republican, they’re colored, they have alternative preferences, we represent everyone in the county. Everyone. We represent every citizen.

If you want to hear it for yourself, it’s right at the 108-minute mark.

Wow. How many people did Allbee offend in that brief remark? Well, obviously, “colored” is a longtime no-no. There’s also “alternative preferences,” by which he apparently means LGBT. But as we all know, “preference” is the right-wing code word for “you’ve got a choice, and you chose EVIL.”

Plus there’s the Republican formulation of “Democratic.”

Ugh.

I haven’t had time to go back and listen to the whole forum, but based on this one statement, I have to say I really, really hope that the voters don’t choose this guy as a standard-bearer for the Democratic Party.

Sorry, Rog. I mean “Democrat Party.”

Postscript. In addition to the above, one of my colleagues at Green Mountain Daily tells me that Allbee donated $500 to the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign in 2004. In fairness, he was a Republican at the time; but Bush/Cheney isn’t exactly moderate Republicanism. And his alleged hero, Jim Jeffords, had already exited the GOP because it had no place for him.

I have to say, the Vermont media have done a horrific job on Allbee’s candidacy. They’ve let him self-identify as a Democrat without exploring his political history at all.

Yes, it got worse for Vermont Republicans. Except Phil.

Notes and musings from the August 18 campaign finance report filings…

Governor Shumlin is in cruise control. His campaign raised another $67,000 this time, and spent only $11,000. He has almost $1.13 million in the bank.

Scott Milne continues to falter. He raised $22,370 this time, compared to $20,000 last time. That pace won’t get him anywhere near his stated goal of $200,000. And his total was again buoyed considerably by the Boies family: $2K from a Christopher Boies, $2K from daddy Boies’ law firm, and $2K from an LLC whose address is the same as the daddy Boies law firm. For those keeping track, the collective Boieses have donated $16,000 of Milne’s total of $42K. He also raised $2K from Altour International, a high-end travel agency based in New York. His biggest in-state donor was the Wayside Restaurant, which donated $2K. That’s a lot of ham and eggs.

Milne spent $28,000 in the past month, of which more than $18K went to campaign manager Brent Burns’ consulting firm.

— The alleged Republican upstart, Libertarian Dan Feliciano, reported raising $13,000. Sounds decent, but $10K of that came from Dan himself. He had only a handful of other donors — notably getting $200 from Republican Treasurer Mark “Little Snell” Snelling. There’s no sign of a Feliciano bandwagon to be found in his finance report.

— The Vermont Republican Party is still in the doldrums, raising $2,420 in the past month.

— The only Republican doing really well is Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott who, challenged by Progressive Dean Corren’s public financing, put his fundraising operation into high gear and pulled in $52,000 in the past month. He didn’t spend a whole lot, and has $120,000 in cash on hand. He got plenty of cash from construction firms (his line of work) and from some of his turncoat friends in the Senate Democratic majority — a total of $2500 from Dick and Dorothy Mazza, and $200 from “Bobby Star,” who I believe is actually State Sen. Bobby Starr.

Scott’s doing well for himself, but to judge from the latest reports, he ain’t lifting a finger for his beloved VTGOP.

Vermonters First, which spent a million Broughton Bucks in 2012, is still in hibernation. Raised zero, spent $25 for a bank account.

— Lenore Broughton did open her checkbook for a few Republican candidates and gave $2K to the Common Sense Leadership PAC. Said PAC didn’t raise any other money but managed to spend $3500 on consultants. Namely $2K to Shayne Spence, a staffer at the Ethan Allen Institute, and $1500 to Elizabeth Metraux who is apparently the PR person for Vermont PBS.

— Republicrat Senate hopeful Roger Allbee pulled in a decent $4760 this time around for a grand total of $6K. His total take included a nice $1,000 donation from soon-to-be-ex-Senator Peter Galbraith. The Slummin’ Solon, who has publicly endorsed Allbee, was nonetheless chosen to moderate one of the four Windham County Democratic Senatorial candidate forums, a curious move to be sure. (During that debate, he reportedly got into an argument with fellow Senator Jeanette White. Not very statesmanlike or diplomatic, Petey.)

— Celebrity tidbit: The aforementioned Senator White can brag of a $100 donation from Mr. Tom Bodett. Leavin’ the light on for ya!

Everybody loves good ol’ Phil

I think I’ve identified the source of Lake Champlain’s outbreak of blue-green algae: last week’s party in Senator Dick Mazza’s Corvette-laden “garage” on behalf of Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott. Enough horseshit was generated to feed an algae bloom for months.

I’m sorry I missed it. Guess my invitation got lost in the mail. Fortunately, the Freeploid’s Nancy Remsen was there, and made the Mazza Tov the centerpiece of her Phil Scott profile in the Sunday paper. From her account, I extract a few gems…

The Republican lieutenant governor glad-handed Republicans, Democrats, lobbyists and business leaders…

I guess Good Ol’ Phil won’t be a supporter of VPIRG’s campaign finance reform agenda. Just a guess.

“It is great to see such a bipartisan crowd,” [former Governor Jim] Douglas observed. He wasn’t surprised, he said, noting, “Phil Scott is the kind of Vermonter who doesn’t worry about someone’s party label.”

Immediately thereafter, Douglas revealed himself to be the kind of Vermonter who DOES worry about party labels:

Douglas urged the crowd to help re-elect Scott to “make sure we don’t have lopsided government.”

As I have observed before, should we be electing people based on affirmative action? Or should the onus be on Republicans to craft a message that actually resonates with the Vermont electorate?

Oh wait, here comes Senate Penitent Pro Tem John Campbell, who was on hand to offer his almost-not-quite-nudge-nudge-wink-wink non-endorsement.

“I’m here to support a friend,” Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor, said as he stood near Scott in the Corvette showroom. Campbell qualified his support, saying, “I’m not raising funds for Phil.”

Isn’t that nice. I guess I shouldn’t think of this as treason.

No, I guess not, because as Campbell says, he’d support a real actual Democrat for Lieutenant Governor, but he won’t support Progressive Dean Corren even if he wins the Democratic nomination. Campbell just can’t overlook Corren’s long-ago “bashing” of Democrats, even though today’s Corren has definitively foresworn any and all Dem-bashing, promises to work hand-in-hand with Democrats, and is much more politically aligned with Governor Shumlin than is Phil Scott. But I guess Campbell, like Jim Douglas, is unfortunately obsessed with party labels.

Also on hand, making excuses for their Phil-anthropy, were State Senator Dick McCormack and Burlington Democrat Ed Adrian. McCormack “acknowledged that his views on many issues are probably closer to Corren’s, ‘but what I’ve done with Phil really counts for a lot.'”

Awwwww, how thweet. As for Adrian, well, he offered his own variation on the VTGOP’s affirmative action theme: keep Phil around as the token Republican.

If Democrats occupy every position of power, they are just going to fight among themselves. What is wrong with having a moderate, token Republican who would frankly be considered a Democrat elsewhere in the country?

Sorry, Ed, color me unconvinced. What’s wrong with having a “token Republican” in the Lieutenant Governor’s office is that, as a member of the Senate Rules Committee and the tiebreaking vote on legislation, he could become a significant roadblock in the push for single-payer health care and campaign finance reform. And I am unmoved by the fact that Scott would be considered a Democrat in West Virginia or Nebraska. It’s like Roger Allbee running for a Democratic Senate seat in Windham County: he may be a liberal Republican and he might make a really good Senator from, oh, Rutland County or the Northeast Kingdom, but he’s too centrist for the Windham electorate. Same with Scott: he’d be a fine Lite-Gov if it were entirely a ceremonial position, and he’d be a breath of fresh air in Montana or Wyoming, but as Lieutenant Governor of Vermont he’s a potential obstacle to Governor Shumlin’s top priority. Which is why Shumlin has all but endorsed Dean Corren.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never had the chance to fall under the up-close-and-personal spell of Phil Scott’s charms*, but I don’t get the Scott fetishism among so many of our Democratic officeholders. It’s reminding me quite a bit of the Vince Illuzzi fetishism of two years ago. Nobody gave Doug Hoffer much of a chance because he was a Progressive, and a rather abrasive one at that, while Everybody Loved Vince.

*Maybe it’s his private-label cologne, a bi-attractant blend of pleasing moderation with rich, manly undertones of racing fuel and asphalt. 

Except when it came Election Day, it turned out that the inside-the-Dome crowd didn’t represent the electorate as a whole. I’m hoping the same thing happens with Corren, for the sake of single-payer’s prospects in the Senate, and in order to drive another stake into the heart of the old-boys’ network, go-along-get-along atmosphere that beclouds our Most Stagnant Deliberative Body.

Meet Windham County’s Favorite Republicrat

One of the bigger surprises of last month’s filing deadline was the appearance of an old face in a new place: Roger Allbee, Ag Secretary under Jim Douglas and self-described “liberal Republican,” is running for the State Senate in Windham County.

… as a Democrat.

Well, last Wednesday I guest-hosted the Mark Johnson Show on WDEV*, and I booked Allbee as one of my guests. I thought it worthwhile to try to pin him down on his move to the Democratic side.

*For those unfamiliar with the show, Mark frequently does in-depth interviews with key figures in politics and government. He posts his more noteworthy interviews in an online podcast, available anytime for people outside of WDEV’s range or who can’t listen live between 9-11 a.m. because they, y’know, have to work and stuff. The podcast is a bit out of date right now because Mark’s been on vacation. But it’s worth bookmarking. 

The result, such as it was, has earned Allbee a nickname: The Artful Roger.

He bobbed and weaved, ducked and parried, and determinedly changed the subject at every opportunity. In a very genial way, I should add. It wasn’t at all contentious; he simply wouldn’t say much about it. If you’re a Windham County Democrat wondering about the sincerity of his party switch, well, you can keep on wondering. The Artful Roger didn’t lay any doubts to rest. Indeed, my conclusion is that he hasn’t changed a bit: he’s still a moderate Republican, and his positions are more or less in line with the likes of Phil Scott.

His case for his candidacy as a Democrat: “People who know me know that I have always worked in a very bipartisan manner, and even when I was Secretary, to bring things together.”

Want more?

I’m passionate about Vermont and the values of our community, and believe that with my knowledge of the state and my reputation for working with people on all sides of the aisle in a very bipartisan way, that I can bring my great passion and knowledge to the Senate. I know how it works, and have been there as Secretary and think that my values, my skill and my background can help make a difference.

Prospective slogan: “Vote for Allbee: He’s Very Bipartisan.” Alternatively: “Allbee: ‘Some of My Best Friends Are Democrats.'”

He says he hasn’t moved, but the GOP has moved away from him:

When I grew up in Brookline many years ago, party labels really didn’t mean much. People voted for the individual, and for what the individual believed in. I still believe that, but the Republican Party that I’ve known in the past, the Aiken party, the Dick Snelling party, that party has certainly moved in a way that it doesn’t represent my views today.

True enough, but with Phil Scott trying to make the party more inclusive, this seems like exactly the wrong time for a liberal Republican to jump ship. Allbee replied that he respects Scott, but still believes his views “haven’t been included as much as they should be” in the party. Which doesn’t really answer the question.

Then again, he gave no indication that he has actually jumped ship. When I asked about switching to the Democratic Party, he replied, “I can’t say I really did switch parties.”

As quickly as he could, The Artful Roger launched into a lengthy explication of what he sees as the three big issues facing Vermont: Health care reform, the public school system and how to fund it, and economic development. An explication that lasted more than five minutes.

And it sounded like the kind of stuff you’d hear from Phil Scott (or, Lord help us, Bruce Lisman): long on exploration, short on specifics, plenty of talk about “concerns” with current policies but no outright criticism, and invocations of a more balanced approach to stuff like taxes and regulation.

I redirected the conversation by noting that Allbee should expect skepticism about his candidacy, and asked him to convince me it wasn’t sheer opportunism — his only way to win in a very liberal constituency. His answer was more of the same.

I think people who know me and know what I’ve done and how I’ve worked collaboratively with others and know my personality and my values, know that it’s not opportunism, but it’s using my experience. Obviously there will be some who say that. So be it. I think I have a history of working with all sides, and supporting candidates like Pat Leahy and Peter Welch and working with them, even Bernie Sanders. Governor Shumlin asked me to stay on [as Ag Secretary], because I had the reputation of being collaborative and working on the issues. So some will say that, but my history demonstrates otherwise.

“Even Bernie Sanders.” Nice touch.

My conclusion: Allbee’s a nice enough guy with a lot of experience and knowledge. I think he’s more or less honest about running as a Democrat, although there’s clearly an element of opportunism at work. He’s running in a solidly Democratic county at a time when one of the two incumbents is stepping down, leaving an open seat.

Still, he’d be a fine Republican candidate — from somewhere else, like Rutland or Caledonia. But Windham? One of the most liberal counties in the state shouldn’t be represented by a neo-centrist.

Besides, the State Senate already has too many of these types, both Democrats and Republicans: centrists or center-rightists who’ve helped block a lot of progressive legislation during the Shumiln years. We really don’t need another Dick Mazza, do we?

Postscript. There hasn’t been any coverage of the Windham County race in the statewide media (except my own stuff on Green Mountain Daily), which surprises me. I realize the primary isn’t until late August, but this is a slow time for political coverage and Allbee’s entry sets up perhaps the most intriguing primary race in Vermont: a four-way run for two Democratic nominations, including one incumbent (Jeanette White), two newcomers (Becca Balint and Joan Bowman), and Allbee. And with no declared Republican candidates, the winners of the Dem primary will waltz their way into the Senate.

Me on the radio (updated)

Hey, I’m at the very compact digs of WDEV, getting ready to do the Mark Johnson Show today from 9 to 11 a.m. EDT. 550 AM or 96.1 FM in northern/central Vermont. One of m;y scheduled guests canceled yesterday, which set off an invigorating scramble for a substitute.

Bit it all worked out nicely. Here’s the revised rundown.

9:00 am: Roger Allbee, former Douglas Administration Agriculture Secretary. The lifelong Republican is running for the State Senate as a Democrat. He’ll talk about his decision to run, and to switch parties; and we’ll ask him if he had an honest change of heart, or if it’s sheer political opportunism at work.

9:40 am: Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women. She just returned from the White House Summit on Working Families. We’ll talk about the summit and what was actually accomplished, beyond the sound bites and photo ops.

10:10 am: State Rep. Chris Pearson, chair of the Progressive Party caucus in the State House. He’ll be talking about the state of the party heading into the 2014 campaign, its challenges and opportunities, and its highest-profile candidate: Dean Corren, who will take on incumbent Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott.

Tune in if you can, on the radio or online at wdevradio.com.