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.”


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.

More on primary write-ins

A small addition to my earlier post about today’s Board of Canvassers certification of the primary results. 

In the Democratic race for Lieutenant Governor, Progressive Dean Corren took the nomination with 3,874 votes, or 60% of the total. Republican incumbent Phil Scott received 1,895 write-in votes on the Democratic line, or 40%*. And in the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Libertarian Dan Feliciano managed to get 2,093 write-in votes in losing to Scott Milne. 

*Correction: Scott received 29.6% of the Democratic write-in vote. My mistake. I should never try to do math while blindfolded. 

Earning nearly 4,000 write-in votes is an impressive accomplishment for a, frankly, little-known candidate. Scott’s a well-established and well-liked figure, while Corren is a former State Rep who hasn’t been a candidate for any office since 1998. 

This is Corren’s second notable achievement in the campaign. The first, and more significant, was qualifying for public campaign financing. He must have a solid organization, and he must have some measure of appeal. We have yet to see whether a focused enthusiasm will translate into broad support from the public at large. 

At first glance, his 60-40 margin of victory over Scott, who wasn’t even campaigning for the Democratic nomination, doesn’t look too strong. If the primary electorate was representative of the general public, I’d say Corren is in serious trouble. But the primary voters — the 9% of all registered voters who bothered to show up — is a self-selected group of people with a strong interest in politics. Strong enough to cast a ballot in a relatively inconsequential primary. Scott’s 40% does not mean he can count on 40% of the Democratic votes in November; far from it. An indeterminate number of his votes were from Republicans taking advantage of (a) Vermont’s open primary, and (b) the complete lack of anything worth voting for on the Republican ballot. For many Republicans, the most constructive thing they could have done last Tuesday was to get Phil Scott on the Democratic ballot. That would have ensured his re-election. 

All that said, Corren remains a longshot. Phil Scott is well-known and well-liked, and the argument by people like Ed Adrian (that we need at least one Republican in a statewide office, and that Scott serves a valuable function in that role) is likely to have some resonance. Especially since Scott projects such a friendly, reasonable persona. And the Shumlin Administration’s continued bungling of Vermont Health Connect won’t exactly help Corren, who’s committed to single-payer health care. 

As for Feliciano, he took 93% of the Republican write-in votes for Governor. Or, about 13% of the total vote. It wasn’t enough to challenge Scott Milne, who had 72% of the total vote. A couple thousand write-in votes is a respectable number, but it’s not enough to indicate a real split among Republicans. But that could change; if Milne continues to stumble on the campaign trail and in fundraising, and it becomes clear that he poses no threat to Shumlin, then conservative voters will have nothing to lose by casting a protest vote for Feliciano. And if Feliciano finishes a solid third, he’ll push Milne into laughable-loser territory, and that would encourage the true believers to carry on their fight for control of the VTGOP. 

One housekeeping note. This was the first election in which town clerks were legally required to report their results on election night. Some failed to do so; 31 precincts out of 275. Secretary of State Jim Condos said, “We’ll reach out to towns that didn’t report on Tuesday night, and find out why they didn’t.” He speculated that there might have been confusion with a new reporting system, or ignorance of the new legal requirement. 

Condos is hoping for complete returns on time in November, but he doesn’t have a stick to go with his carrot. When the Legislature adopted the election-night requirement, it did not enact any penalties for failure to comply. 


Meet Your Vermont Republican Ticket (now with lots of Democrats!)

The state Board of Canvassers has certified the results of last week’s Vermont primary. We’re still waiting for a couple of numbers, but the biggest surprise was a trio of write-in victories in the Republican primary. 

Your GOP nominee for Auditor: Incumbent Dem/Prog Doug Hoffer. 

Your GOP nominee for Secretary of State: incumbent Democrat Jim Condos. 

Your GOP nominee for Treasurer: incumbent Democrat Beth Pearce. 

All three received the highest number of write-in votes in their respective races — and received more than the minimum 250 needed to win as a write-in. 

Yet another low-water mark for the Vermont Republican Party: fully half its statewide ticket is comprised of Democrats. 

In other news: Yes indeed, Dean Corren is your Democratic nominee (and your Progressive nominee) for Lieutenant Governor. We don’t yet know how many Dem write-ins were given to incumbent Republican Phil Scott; we only know it wasn’t enough. 

Same with Libertarian Dan Feliciano. We don’t know how many write-in votes he got for the Republican gubernatorial nomination; we just know that Scott Milne won the nomination. 

Otherwise, not much news. Which has got to be comforting to Jim Condos; write-ins have spelled trouble the last couple of election cycles. 

Emily Peyton Stands the Gap Between Polity and Chaos

Perennial candidate Emily Peyton, fresh off losing the Republican gubernatorial primary, has some thoughts on How To Have A Fair Election, published in the August 29 Mitchell Family Organ. Unsurprisingly, her prescription involves a hell of a lot more attention devoted to the genius of Emily Peyton and her colleagues in the Fringe Brigade. 

She blames the media, of course. Not just the media, but the alleged “GOP/press piracy of the election process.” Yeh, me and “Super Dave” Sunderland, we’re thick as thieves. 

But that’s not the most outrageous thing she said.  

…revolution is becoming an increasingly dangerous inevitability. We are in danger of losing all peace if party/press piracy of elections continues. 


Had the press been fair and impartial, Dan Feliciano might have won… I might have won in a miracle, but I’m not sleek or slick. I’m too ahead of my time and I know it, so I realistically doubt it. …I’ll keep at it through November — to avert the coming revolution.

Ooof. Emily Peyton is too ahead of her time to win, but will continue her campaign for the sake of staving off chaos. Narcissistic, much?

With all due respect, Ms. Peyton, if you and your messianic worldview were better-known, you probably would have gotten fewer votes, not more. You’re better off being little-known and hoping people vote for you at random. 

But let’s move on to the Peyton Prescription, guaranteed to ward off the coming apocalypse. She calls on the party/press cartel to adopt the following program: 

Through their nonprofit, they organize and fund debates in each county during the election season with every balloted candidate of any party welcomed. Party favorite candidates that no-show are publicly busted as the corrupt 1 percent elite. 

Each debate is shared through cable access, online in video, transcripted and audio formats. Each debate centers on a different topic (energy, health, education, agriculture, corrections, transportation, environment, federal policy, monetary policy, taxation, military affairs and policing, and government). Questions for candidates will be generated by the public only, and each debate will last as long as questions continue. 

No idea what she means by “their nonprofit,” but never mind. There’s one big huge problem with Peyton’s plan, and it’s not party/press piracy. It’s that nobody would watch these endless debates. The vast majority of voters are simply not that interested. 

Which is also why the media has a lot less impact than Peyton or the media themselves believe. Most people don’t follow politics. Most voters start each campaign with their minds made up, firmly committed to one party or the other. They aren’t interested in learning about a whole bunch of candidates. Even true independents aren’t interested in spending much more than a token amount of time researching issues and candidates. 

So let’s say the party/press pirates bow to Peyton’s demands. Would she require people to watch? Would they have to prove that they watched all the relevant debates in order to receive a ballot? If not, then the debates would be meaningless. 

Fact is, it’s not that hard to gain a spot on the Vermont ballot — as the Liberty Union Party proves every other year. Getting on the ballot does not, by itself, earn you the right to demand reams of print coverage and hours of free media time and voter attention. A candidate must show some measure of public support to earn our attention. And it does happen: witness the Tea Party, and the national popularity of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. 

Sure, there are problems with our political system. And sure, the two major parties occupy too much of the available space. But a series of twelve debates including every single candidate on the ballot? For, presumably, every office on the ballot? And each debate goes on and on “as long as questions continue”? 

Nobody… and I mean nobody… would sit through that.