Tag Archives: Brian Shelden

A Potentially Wacky Race for a Newly Created Senate Seat

Whose idea was THIS?

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.

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Big Money in the Democratic LG Race (And Other Campaign Finance Notes)

The big takeaway from the first campaign finance deadline of 2022 (for state candidates only, not federal) is that the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor is going to be a heated affair. All four candidates raised respectable amounts of money, with a couple of them clearly rising to the top.

Disclaimer: Fundraising is not the only measure of a campaign’s health. Organization and grassroots appeal are also key, but it’s very hard to measure those and very simple to read financial filings, So we look for the missing keys under the streetlight where we can see.

Leading the pack is former state Rep. Kitty Toll, widely believed to be the choice of most party regulars. She raised $118,000, which is quite a lot for this early in an LG race. She had 323 separate donors, 227 of them giving less than $100 apiece.

Coming in a sollid second is former LG David Zuckerman, with $92,000. Patricia Preston, head of the Vermont Council on World Affairs, raised $89,000 with a big fat asterisk: $23,000 of her total came from in-kind donations. That’s a very high total, and it means she has far less cash on hand than it appears at first glance. Rep. Charlie Kimbell is a distant fourth with $44,000 raised.

You want deets? We got deets.

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Dregs of the Ballot: Ethan Lawrence, Stealth Conspiratorialist

People of Essex, be forewarned. The man who uses this as his social media image is Ethan Lawrence, candidate for Selectboard. In fact, Ethan Lawrence is the only name on the ballot for the office he seeks. But he’d be such a disaster that town Democratic Party chair Brian Shelden has stepped forward as a write-in candidate in hopes of derailing Lawrence’s bid for office.

Lawrence is an anti-vaxxer, anti-masker, and angry despiser of all things liberal. But he’s presenting himself as a thoughtful moderate in hopes of sneaking into office as Liz Cady did last year in her bid for Essex-Westford school board. Now, Lawrence has every right to be a candidate, but the voters deserve to be informed about his views and his character.

Until very recently, Lawrence maintained a lively, vulgar, conspiratorialist presence on social media. Now that he’s presenting as a moderate, he’s tried to hide his tracks. But hey, this is why God invented screenshots. Here’s a pretty typical example.

We’ve got more, and worse… after the jump.

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