Tag Archives: Dan Feliciano

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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A wild Saturday night with the Windsor County GOP

Sing it with me, boys and girls: “One of these things is not like the others…”

Feliciano, Tate, Dame, Lisman

That, my friends, is the star-studded lineup for Saturday night’s “gala dinner” hosted by the Windsor County Republicans. Well, that plus a “Soap Box” for any Republican candidate who shows up and wants to charm the crowd with some campaign bumpf.

Constant Readers will recall that Windsor County GOP Chair John MacGovern had touted the event with a list of “invited speakers” featuring a whole bunch of Republican notables: at least three presidential candidates, any and all Vermont Republican hopefuls, plus VTGOP godfather Jim Douglas.

Well, apparently most of those folks declined the invitation. Instead, we get the odd quartet pictured above: three of the most conservative politicos in the VTGOP, plus wealthy gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman.

And don’t forget the Soap Box!

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Two Eminently Refusable Invitations from the VTGOP Social Calendar

Oh, those Republicans. They know how to liven things up, don’t they?

Don’t they?

Maybe they don’t.

Exhibit A: An unfortunate scheduling mishap by that Master of Mishaps, Scott Milne.

Exhibit B: A “gala dinner” that promises to thoroughly underwhelm.

MeetScottMilneFirst, off, you’ve got a chance to meet 2014 gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne on Wednesday evening. Oh, pardon me, I should say Meet with SCOTT MILNE!

Which is perfectly fine, except for what else is going on Wednesday evening that might just be of greater interest to Republicans: the second Republican Presidential debate. The first one attracted some 25 million viewers; the second is likely to blow Meet with SCOTT MILNE! out of the water.

(BTW, the Vermont Young Republicans are hosting a “Debate Watch Party” at Halvorson’s Cafe in Burlington. If you’re thinking about attending, you might want to grab a bite beforehand; the eatery’s Yelp reviews are kind of dispiriting. Lots of one- and two-star reviews, with its overall rating buoyed up to three stars thanks to a handful of suspiciously enthusiastic five-star reviews.)

For our second entry, we head down I-89 to the Upper Valley, where the Windsor County Republicans will hold a “friend-raiser” on October 3 in Norwich. “Friend-raiser” not “fundraiser” because, ha ha, they want to bring in new recruits for assimilation. They will, of course, accept donations, and entry will cost you 25 bucks.

The second-saddest thing about this announcement is the fact that John MacGovern is chair of the Windsor County Republicans. This is the same MacGovern who was a complete flameout when he challenged Bernie Sanders for Senate in 2012, and who represented the party’s conservative wing in the race for party chair in 2014. (He lost to David Sunderland, who is pretty darn conservative but was Phil Scott’s choice for the gig.)

Before that, he’d spent several years heading an “organization” called the Hanover Institute, a nonprofit whose goal was to bring conservative pressure to bear against the alleged liberals who’d taken over Dartmouth College. In fact, the Institute’s sole employee was John MacGovern, and its funds basically paid his salary and expenses while he produced occasional newsletters and swanned about the country kissing conservative alumni ass.

So that’s who you’ve got leading the Republican charge in Windsor County. But the saddest thing is the event itself.

MacGovern says the “friend-raiser” will “celebrate core Republican principles” and will feature a “full-course meal” (whatever that means), cash bar, raffle, and speeches from Republican worthies.

But you’d best read the fine print.

A number of prominent Republican, conservative and libertarian speakers have been invited to attend this event, including Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Bruce Lisman, Ben Carson, and former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas.

Please note the verb “invited.” The only confirmed speaker is Dan Feliciano, the Libertarian candidate who drew a dismal 4% of the vote in the dismal 2014 gubernatorial election. He then became a Republican, and is now considering a second bid for Governor.

Somehow I don’t see the likes of Fiorina, Kasich, Lisman, Carson, and Douglas going out of their way to answer their invitations. But hey, there’ll be a “Soap Box… to all Republican candidates who show up.”

Woof. That promises a long evening of tedium.

But wait, there’s more! After MacGovern’s press release was published on VTDigger, he posted a correction: “there is no cash bar.”

Aaaarrrgh.

With friend-raisers like this, who needs enemies?

Seven Shades of Nothing

After a couple of big surprises Wednesday morning, the rest of Campaign Finance Filing Day was rather a damp squib. Nothing much was revealed. Unless, that is, the “nothing” is in itself significant.

And I wouldn’t be a political blogger if I couldn’t make something from nothing.

And so, theVPO presents the top seven nothings and what they might mean.

In the race for Governor, four of the five top prospective candidates did nothing. A marginal hopeful did the same. As for the potential Democratic faceoff for Attorney General, neither incumbent Bill Sorrell not declared challenger TJ Donovan reported any new activity.

None of this is terribly surprising. Among those potential gubernatorial candidates, only Matt Dunne had an existing campaign structure (dormant since 2010) to accept donations. And by Vermont standards, it’s still extremely early for anyone to be beating the bushes.

The two likeliest Democratic candidates for governor not named Dunne, Shap Smith and Sue Minter, didn’t seek funds for a corner-office run. Smith reported a bit of fundraising for his State House campaign kitty, easily transferable should the need arise. This leaves Dunne with a sizeable lead — but there’s a lot of time to catch up. In this regard, Dunne’s dollar total is less significant than his ability to quickly sign up a brace of top-tier liberal donors in Vermont and in Silicon Valley.

On the Republican side, the losing 2012 nominee, Randy Brock, didn’t report anything. The putative front-runner, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, didn’t do any new fundraising — but he has nearly $100,000 left over from his 2014 campaign, so he’s definitely in no hurry.

And then there’s Dan Feliciano, former Libertarian turned kinda Republican, who’s been pondering a second run for governor.

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A hundred thousand interrupted dinners

Scott Milne is ready to unleash his master stroke — the Hail Mary pass that will seal his epic come-from-behind, David-beats-Goliath victory on November 4.

It’s a Tele-Town Hall Meeting on the evening of November 3.

Our Man Mahatma hosted one of these events just before the August primary. And hey, it obviously worked: he beat Dan Feliciano and Emily Peyton. So why not try it again?

A Tele-Town Hall, for those just joining us, is a kinda-sorta town hall meeting by phone. This one will feature an intro by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, which I believe is his first official appearance on Milne’s behalf. Awfully nice of him to finally make time for his less well-known, less popular ticket-mate. Then, MIlne will make a few remarks. And finally, he will answer questions submitted by listeners and filtered through campaign staffers and the event’s moderators — his two children, Elise and Keith Milne.

Somehow I doubt that any inconvenient or embarrassing questions will get through.

But the most notable aspect of this grand event will happen before the 7:00 pm launch. Robo-calls will go out to “the homes of over 100,000 registered voters inviting them to stay on the line as the event begins.”

Peachy keen. A hundred thousand Vermonters will get cold-called at, what, 6:50, and told to hold on the line for an hour of one-sided, sanitized political chatter.

Better ger dinner ready early, Mom and Dad, so you and the kids can gather ’round the phone for this historic moment in democracy.

Seriously, how many people are going to get an unexpected call during the dinner hour and voluntarily stick around for more than an hour?

Well, to look at it the other way, if Milne gets one-half of one percent to stick around, he’ll have an audience of 500. Which is probably more than he’s drawn to any campaign event before now.

Besides, as Milne points out, “Vermonters deserve transparent leaders willing to listen to their concerns…”

Yes, wiling to listen to carefully selected concerns filtered through Milne’s campaign apparatus.

There’s a special phone number, by the way, for members of the media who want to listen in. They can’t ask questions, mind you; Milne isn’t that transparent. But he’s happy to provide us with a toll-free number in exchange for whatever free publicity he can muster on the last night of the election.

A rare bit o’ sunshine falls on Scott Milne’s shoulder

I have to admit, I didn’t think he had it in him. But Scott Milne did it: he actually had a solid fundraising effort in September.

It’s too little, too late to get him elected. But it’s a nice solid turnaround.

Mahatma’s October 1 campaign finance report shows that he raised $78,529 during September, plus $2,600 in “in-kind” contributions, for a total of $81,129.

Very respectable. And roughly double his fundraising total before September 1.

But wait, there’s more good news. As many Republicans were quick to point out, the vast majority of Milne’s money came from in-state donors. He also did extremely well with small donations, racking up 348 separate gifts of less than $100 each. He had a lot of donations in the $100-500 range, and relatively few top-dollar gifts. His total number of unique donors in September was almost 450, or abut 15 per day. Not bad at all.

There were a couple worms in the apple, of course. He’s spending money faster than he’s raising it, having laid out more than $95,000 in all. Which leaves him with a net balance of about $41,000. In terms of cash on hand, Governor Shumlin has a 26-to-1 advantage. It’s still Bambi vs. Godzilla.

Also, more than $38,000 of Milne’s fundraising came from himself or his immediate family. And he had earlier loaned his campaign a cool $25,000. Overall, he’s much better off than he was a month ago, but he’s nowhere near competitive financially.

My conclusion: This was a good month for Milne, but it’s inconsequential to the Shumlin machine. The person for whom this is really bad news is Dan Feliciano, the Libertarian candidate who’s hoping to steal a sizeable chunk of the Republican vote. Feliciano continued to fundraise in dribs and drabs, pulling in only about $3,500 last month.

Milne beat him handily. What that says to me is that, among Republican voters, the GOP brand still carries a lot of cachet. They will vote for the Republican candidate no matter what. And quite a few of them will give money to the Republican candidate no matter what.

It makes me think that Feliciano’s upside may be more limited than us politi-geeks had thought. We heard the insider buzz for Feliciano, and party apparatchiks’ palpable disdain for Milne, and projected Feliciano to take a decent chunk of conservative votes — perhaps driving him into the teens, percentage-wise. Milne’s latest finance report makes me think the Feliciano buzz is mostly confined to the insider crowd, and that the Republican grassroots are likely to stick with their party’s man — even if (especially if?) they don’t know who he is.

Which makes me think that Feliciano won’t get out of the single digits. Sure, he got into the teens in the August primary as a write-in candidate, but that was a very small, self-selected sliver of the broader electorate. He’ll have a very hard time matching that performance in November.

(Note: If Feliciano’s seemingly ill-considered 48-hour, $100,000 fundraising blitz actually succeeds, I’ll have to eat a bunch of my words. And I’d be happy to do so. But I’m not getting out the ketchup bottle just yet.)

Milne Campaign Continues to Fumble Along

Scott Milne’s campaign for Governor has posted its latest campaign finance report, and it once again reflects a campaign that can’t raise money. 

Total donations, since the last filing deadline on August 18: $10,305. For his campaign so far: $53,000. 

Total expenditures: $33,000 since August 18, and $62,000 for the campaign. In other words, it’s two months until election day and the Milne campaign is in the red

Well, it would be, except that Milne loaned his own campaign $25,000. Which enabled him to pay his bills and keep the lights on. 

But wait, there’s more bad news within those numbers. Of the $10,305 total, $7,350 came from people named Milne or Milne-related businesses. The breakdown: 

$2,000 from Milne Travel

$2,000 from B&M Realty, the firm co-owned by Scott Milne and David Boies III

$2,000 from Donald Milne

$1,000 from George Milne

   $350 from Jonathan and Nancy Milne

Aside from that, Milne managed to raise less than $3,000. 

And he’s apparently tapped out the Boies Family connection. Not only were there no new donations from Boieses, the Milne campaign actually refunded a $2,000 donation previously given by Robin Boies of Naples, Florida. 

As for Milne’s pre-primary spending, he threw almost $19,000 into TV ads. He also paid another $4,600 to campaign manager Brent Burns’ firm “Pure Campaigns LLC.” And he spent $2,500 on his infamous Tele-Town Meeting. 

So here we are, at the launch point of Milne 2.0 — the time when he pivots from attacking Governor Shumlin’s record to finally, belatedly, rolling out his own policy ideas — and he’s in negative territory because he can’t fundraise his way out of a wet paper bag, and he had to go into debt just to fend off a write-in effort by a little-known Libertarian. 

I keep thinking it can’t get any worse, and then it does.