In the category of “Get your popcorn ready,” no state Senate race is likely to outdo the contest shaping up in the newly-created Chittenden North district, a.k.a. “The Democrats’ Gift to the VTGOP.” The Democratic majority who controlled redistricting managed to create a new district out of Chittenden County that seems to have a pretty strong Republican lean. Chittenden North includes the strongly Republican towns of Milton, Fairfax and Westford, plus most of Essex, whose internal politics are as fraught as a Montague-Capulet family reunion.
The declared candidates are Rep. Leland Morgan (R-Milton) and Democrat Irene Wrenner. In addition, potential candidate Brian Shelden has yet to declare — but he has set up a website for a Senate candidacy and filed a campaign finance report in March detailing more than $4,000 in donations. Those would seem to be rather outsized hints. Shelden is chair of the Essex Democrats and a former candidate for House and Selectboard.
Before we get to the particulars, I must point out the half-hearted job done by VTDigger in its story “2 early contestants join race for new Chittenden North state Senate district.”
Should be “Two,” not “2”, but that’s a detail. The real problem is that the story gave an incomplete and misleading account of Wrenner’s community activism and didn’t discover Shelden’s proto-campaign at all. In addition to missing the Shelden for Senate website, Digger also missed Shelden’s campaign finance filing. This seems to be yet another case of going through the motions on a rote article about a developing campaign. Really, people, if you’re going to produce these pieces, put some effort into them. In the age of The Google, it shouldn’t be that hard.
Back to the race itself. Assuming Shelden is a candidate, the Democratic primary may produce more fireworks than the collective Fourth of July festivities in all of Vermont because Wrenner and Shelden have serious beef.
Meanwhile, Morgan can sit back and chuckle. The makeup of the district seems to give him the edge to start with. And the Democratic primary may splinter the party base; there are plenty of Essexians who support either Wrenner or Shelden and wouldn’t be caught dead voting for the other. (Some of ’em will cross the aisle and vote for Morgan out of spite for the Democratic winner.)
Now, let’s talk Wrenner/Shelden beef.Continue reading