Tag Archives: Beth Pearce

Is Somebody Getting Nervous in the LG Race?

There’s only one month to go until the August primary, and who knows how many absentee ballots already coming in, so maybe it’s no surprise that some collars are showing signs of tightening.

The above is a mailer sent by Senate President Pro Tem and candidate for lieutenant governor Tim Ashe, which seems expressly designed to draw a contrast between him and Assistant Attorney General Molly Gray.

Gray, for those just joining us, appeared seemingly out of nowhere and immediately started racking up big donations and big-name endorsements. Before her emergence, the safe money was on Ashe to ride his name recognition to a primary victory — and then a comfortable ride to election in November. But now? Not so much.

Ashe’s mailer screams about the need for EXPERIENCE in these troubled times. The kind of EXPERIENCE that makes a person fit to, uhhh, bang a gavel. It highlights three things about Ashe that can’t be said about Gray: experience as Pro Tem, experience passing legislation, and “my real-world economic development career.”

That notorious slacker Gray, by contrast, has frittered away her time working for U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Attorney General T.J. Donovan, among others. She probably does scrapbooking or needlepoint in her spare time. Maybe jigsaw puzzles.

Ashe’s mailer doesn’t draw as neat a contrast with the other two Democrats in the race. His fellow Senator Debbie Ingram has plenty of experience on legislation. Activist and arts administrator Brenda Siegel has spent lots of time in the Statehouse working on legislation as an advocate.

A more direct attack on Gray came last week courtesy of VTDigger, which posted a story questioning her residency status — and pretty much settling the issue in her favor.

Here’s some rank speculation on my part: Somebody gave Digger a tip to pursue this angle. If this had been entirely Digger’s initiative, the story would have been done when Gray launched her campaign — after all, she went out of her way to highlight her international experience including her time away from Vermont.

I have not a shred of evidence pointing to Ashe or his minions as the source of the story. But the timing speaks for itself. And I really don’t see Ingram or Siegel resorting to trickery of any sort.

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A tale of two parties

For the third weekend in a row, Vermont’s top Democrats are touring the state, rallying their voters and presenting a unified front behind Sue Minter. Pat Leahy, Peter Welch, David Zuckerman, TJ Donovan, Doug Hoffer, Beth Pearce, and Jim Condos have done more than their share to help carry Minter across the finish line.

And most crucially, Bernie Sanders, who not only spent two weekends on the stump with Minter*, he gave her a tremendous infusion of campaign cash thanks to his millions of supporters across the country. It really has been a great display of unity — far beyond anything I’d hoped for when I advocated a one-weekend Bus Tour. It’s also an impressive show of the Democrats’ political star power, the depth of their talent and the breadth of their appeal.

*This weekend, he’s campaigning for Hillary Clinton in other states. 

Meanwhile, on the other side, we’ve got Phil Scott. And, um…

Phil Scott.

Bravely soldiering on, pretty much carrying the entire VTGOP on his broad, manly shoulders. Or trying to.

Really, who else is there? What other Vermont Republican might hope to draw a crowd or inspire the voters?

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Another batch of lies from the Koch factory

The black sheep of Vermont’s journalism family, Vermont Watchdog, took a short break from its incessant anti-renewable campaign and pooped out a single-source article alleging that Vermont is a fiscal disaster.

A new report from a government accounting watchdog group finds that Vermont has a debt of $3.9 billion, despite claims of having a balanced budget.

The Financial State of the States 2015 report, released this month by Chicago-based Truth in Accounting, debunks the myth that states balance their budgets.

Okay, first of all, any “accounting” group that doesn’t know the difference between a balanced budget and long-term indebtedness ought to be drummed out of the bean-counter fraternity. Every large entity, government or private sector, carries a certain amount of debt on its books. Routine.

So, who are these incompetent clowns at “Truth in Accounting”?

Three guesses, and the first two don’t count.

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The VTGOP’s looming crisis of conscience

Sooner or later, the Vermont Republican Party will have to sort through some stuff. Some unpleasant, downright Trumpian stuff swirling around Rutland these days, sparked by the proposed settlement of 100 Syrian refugees.

It won’t be an issue this fall — except in Rutland. And it will be interesting to see what, if anything, Phil Scott has to say about it. To judge by his usual metrics, he’ll come out with a mealy-mouthed thing about taking everyone’s views into consideration and finding common ground.

Instead of, you know, the right thing: condemning the dog-whistle racialism being spewed by opponents of settlement — the likes of Rutland First and its allies.

The real moment of truth is likely to come next March, when the nativists will almost certainly field candidates who would block the settlement and try to defenestrate incumbent Mayor Chris Louras, the primary author of the settlement plan.

That’s when the VTGOP will have to choose sides. Or, you know, duck and cover.

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There’s a gnat buzzing Beth Pearce’s head

Oh goodie. In this campaign season full of ill-considered, no-hoper, “who asked for this” candidacies, comes yet another: a 30-year-old financial analyst with no political experience who’s only lived in Vermont for four years has decided to challenge State Treasurer Beth Pearce for the Democratic nomination.

Hahahaha.

You go to any campaign or party event, Beth Pearce gets louder cheers and more applause than anybody else. She is incredibly popular. She is not losing the primary, no way, nohow.

The financial analyst in question, Richard Dunne, is running because he favors divestment of state funds from fossil fuel stocks. He’s on the same page as Governor Shumlin among many others. And Pearce’s steadfast opposition to divestment has been a thorn in Shumlin’s side since he started tub-thumping the issue earlier this year.

But there’s no way he’s backing a challenger. There’s no way Dunne can ride this one issue to victory in the primary. And Pearce’s stand on divestment should not put her in danger of losing her post.

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State of the State: Tough sledding

Governor Shumlin’s State of the State address wasn’t quite the nothing-burger you might expect from a lame duck. But if early returns are anything to go by, the actual impact of his address may be a lot closer to a nothing-burger.

There were a few notable initiatives and ideas, but most of them got slapped around almost as soon as he left the podium. And I’m not talking about the predictable Republican naysaying; I’m talking about Democratic criticism. In past years, Shumlin has had a very hard time rescuing high-profile initiatives that get off to a rocky start at the Statehouse, and that’s likely to be even more true in his lame-duck year.

Other ideas are sure to garner opposition on January 21, when the Governor delivers his final budget address. That’s when he’ll have to explain how he wants to pay for new or expanded programs that cost money. (As opposed to, say, paid sick leave, which won’t cost the government a dime.) In the past, the Legislature hasn’t reacted kindly to Shumlin’s budget-cutting suggestions (see: Earned Income Tax Credit, 2013), and he hasn’t reacted well to legislative alternatives.

We can break down the new stuff into two categories: items that will cost money, and those that won’t. At least they won’t cost the state any money.

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Son of Return of theVPO Media Crossover Event!!!!! (UPDATED)

Yep, preparing to get back in the saddle again and host The Mark Johnson Show on WDEV radio the next three weekdays. 550 AM or 96.1 FM in north-central VT (the AM signal can be heard from Burlington to the Connecticut River valley) and live streaming at wdevradio.com. Dates and guests:

Thursday 6/25, 9 am. Jim Salzman, professor of law and environmental policy at Duke University, and expert on water issues and policy. He’s author of “Drinking Water: A History,” a book that explores the very vital — and frequently changing — role that water plays in human society. He just finished a visit to Vermont Law School as a visiting summer scholar. We’ll talk about drinking water’s past, present and future. The School has posted a YouTube video of a lecture given by Prof. Salzman; you can find it here.

Thursday 6/25, 10 am. Matt Dunne, former State Senator and gubernatorial candidate, now head of community affairs for Google. He’s actively considering another run for governor. Oops; last-minute cancellation. Dunne was supposed to fly home from an out-of-state trip Wednesday night; stormy weather prevented that. Or, as he put it in an email to me, “I’m stuck in Chattanooga.” Currently effecting a replacement guest. (Friday and Monday guests after the jump.) Continue reading

Return of theVPO Media Crossover Event!!!

Prepping for another hosting spot on WDEV’s Mark Johnson Show Monday morning. Also Thursday, Friday, and next Monday the 29th. Here’s the lineup for tomorrow and some notes on the rest of the week…

9:00 Monday: State Rep. Corey Parent, R-St. Albans. He was one of eight freshman state lawmakers chosen for the Canadian Embassy’s “Rising State Leaders” program, which included a tour of eastern Canada. We’ll talk about his trip and his reflections on his first year in the Legislature. And since he’s from Franklin County, I’m sure I’ll ask him about Sen. Norm McAllister.

10:00 Monday: Sarah McCall, executive director of Emerge Vermont, a group that trains aspiring women to enter the political arena. (Vermont has rarely elected women to statewide office, and has never sent a woman to Congress.) We’ll talk about the ongoing shakeup in Vermont politics and whether it creates chances for women to move up the ladder.

And later in the hour, we’ll catch up with State Sen. Becca Balint. She was a 2014 graduate of Emerge Vermont, who went on to win a Senate seat from Windham County. She’ll talk about what the program did for her, and her thoughts on Year One in the legislature.

As for my other upcoming days…

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A few numbers, submitted for your consideration

Note: This is a thorough update of an earlier post. I’ve switched from VPR’s numbers to the Secretary of State’s unofficial numbers. The SoS has fewer precincts reporting, but for some reason the VPR returns don’t include the Auditor’s race. I wanted to include Doug Hoffer, so I went to the SoS numbers to provide a consistent base.

 

Which of these things is not like the others?

142,010

122,424

120,298

119,630

105,725

86,808

No, this is not a trick question. The answer is 86,808.

And where do these numbers come from, boys and girls?

They are the vote totals for the six victorious statewide Democratic (and Prog/Dem) candidates.

The first is Auditor Doug Hoffer, who had no opponents on the ballot. After that we have Secretary of State Jim Condos, Treasurer Beth Pearce, Congressman Peter Welch, and Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

And then, badly trailing the field, is Governor Peter Shumlin.

Thinky pain.

Thinky pain.

If you look at those numbers, you have to conclude that the fundamental truth of this election was a repudiation of the Governor.

To be sure, the strength of the competition has a lot to do with the numbers. But consider this one bare fact: roughly 33,000 Vermonters cast votes for Peter Welch and refused to do so for Peter Shumlin. To put it another way, tens of thousands of Vermonters cast straight-ticket Democratic votes except for Dean Corren and Peter Shumlin. 

And today, that’s not the kind of company you want to keep.

On top of all that, while this was a good election for Republicans in the legislature, it wasn’t a tsunami or anything. The Republicans did well; they are still on the short end of lopsided partisan divides. Governor Shumlin barely held on against an underfunded neophyte, but the Dems and Progs were victorious in roughly 60% of House races and nearly two-thirds in the Senate.

By far the biggest loser, aside from Dean Corren, was our (presumably) re-elected Governor. This race was partly a thumbs-down on Democrats in general; but far more than that, it was a rejection of Peter Shumlin’s governorship.

Dems endorse Corren, but their assistance will be limited

The Democratic Party State Committee, meeting today in Montpelier, formally endorsed Dean Corren, the Progressive Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, who had won the Democratic nomination in the August primary as a write-in candidate.

The vote was 31 for Corren and 4 against. I’d presume that most or all of the “no” votes concerned Corren’s strong support of ridgeline wind power. At his debate with incumbent Phil Scott, Corren referred dismissively to the “imagined horrors” of wind farms.

All those who spoke at the meeting were strongly supportive of Corren; Windham County chair John Wilmerding called him “a crucial addition to our slate” because of his advocacy of single-payer health care.

However, thanks to potential conflicts with campaign finance law, the Democrats will not share their database or voter lists with Corren, and he will not take part in the Dems’ Coordinated Campaign.

Some Dems had earlier voiced concern about sharing the party’s robust data with a longtime Progressive who might well pass it on to his fellow Progs. Democratic Party officials said there would be no sharing — but not because of concerns about sharing, but because of legal limits on tangible support to a candidate who has accepted public financing, which Corren has.

Under the law, a candidate who takes public financing cannot accept additional contributions. And because of “the proprietary nature” of the party’s data, said Executive Director Julia Barnes, sharing the information or adding him to the Coordinated Campaign would be considered a donation to the Corren campaign.

There was one hint of Dem/Prog friction. Former party staffer and candidate for Burlington City Council Ryan Emerson McLaren* noted Corren’s vocal support for Democratic candidates, and urged Corren to make the same plea to the Progressives in Burlington who, Emerson said, might nominate a candidate to oppose Burlington’s “fantastic mayor” Miro Weinberger. Emerson asked Corren to urge the city’s Progs to support Weinberger’s bid for a second term. At the meeting, Corren offered no immediate response; nor did he really have the opportunity to do so.

*Please note corrected error: it was not Ryan Emerson, but Ryan McLaren, who raised the Burlington issue. My mistake, and my apologies to Ryan Emerson. 

One other tidbit of news from the meeting: Three statewide Democratic officeholders who won their respective Republican nominations in the August primary because they finished first in write-in votes have all decided to decline the VTGOP nomination. Auditor Doug Hoffer had previously announced he would decline; Secretary of State Jim Condos and Treasurer Beth Pearce have now joined him.

Which means a bunch of big embarrassing vacancies on the Republican ballot this fall. Good times.