Tag Archives: David Sunderland

What if Phil Scott loses?

In my second-most-recent post, I listed all the bad news visited upon Vermont Republicans over the past few days. I ended by asking “What if Phil Scott loses?”

I’ll get to that question, but in the meantime, WCAX released its own poll showing Scott with a seven-point lead over Sue Minter, which has triggered much rejoicing Chez Phil.

In his lede, WCAX’s usually reliable Kyle Midura made an unwarranted inference: since the VPR Poll had shown a statistical dead heat, the TV poll shows that Scott is “pulling ahead.”

Which, c’mon now. These are two polls from different organizations with possibly differing methodologies. (We don’t know because WCAX hasn’t released any details. VPR has disclosed all of that.) Drawing that direct a line between the two polls is misleading at best.

What we have are two data points. One (VPR) from an in-state academic polling outfit, one (WCAX) from a New Jersey-based for-profit firm.

Pollster Paul Braun engaged in some speculation that ought to unnerve those placing a lot of weight on his survey. He credited the WCAX gubernatorial debate for driving Scott’s alleged momentum — when, in fact, debate audiences tend to be very small, and the impact of debates on public opinion is also small. (Unless you pull a Trump, of course.) There is no evidence to support Braun’s assertion.

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The Dems’ attacks are no better than the Repubs’

Recently, I made sport of VTGOP chair David Sunderland for issuing yet another baseless attack on Secretary of State Jim Condos. Seems only fair that I should point out that the Vermont Democratic Party’s attacks are just as poorly-aimed and baseless.

Two recent examples: The Dems trying to make hay over Phil Scott’s fundraising, and their thinly-evidenced claim that the Scott campaign is in cahoots with the Republican Governors Association. Both attacks are poorly-considered, and both will fail to resonate.

The more recent first. The VTDems filed an official complaint with the attorney general’s office, charging improper collusion between Scott and the RGA’s SuperPAC. By law, SuperPACs can promote or attack candidates, but their efforts must be completely independent of any candidate’s campaign.

The SuperPAC, “A Stronger Vermont,” has been running positive ads about Scott. The Dems’ complaint sits on a tenuous foundation: the fact that an RGA film crew has been filming in close proximity to Scott, which means he must have been aware of the camera crew and their provenance.

Yeah, well, maybe. But that doesn’t prove anything.

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Deadbeat Donald

It’s a minor thing compared to the egregious offensiveness of his entire campaign, but Donald Trump has once again proved to be a deadbeat. He has failed to pay an $8,500 bill issued by the City of Burlington for police and fire overtime costs related to Trump’s January rally in the Flynn Center.

You remember, the one where his campaign issued thousands and thousands of extra tickets, thus ensuring a law-enforcement quagmire and setting the stage for potential violent confrontation?

Well, he hasn’t paid up, and the city has decided “it would not be cost effective” to pursue the matter.

[Mayor Miro Weinberger] reiterated that Trump’s “failure to cooperate” with local law enforcement and lack of communication with the public and ticketholders put “undue strain on the City’s police and “unnecessarily hurt downtown businesses.”

Paying the invoice, Weinberger said, “remains the right and honorable thing for Mr. Trump to do.”

Well, sure, but there’s no point in waiting for Donald Trump to do “the right and honorable thing.” He has a long record of doing otherwise.

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Fantasia on a Theme by Bill McKibben

Last night I had the strangest dream… 

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VTGOP Reverses Course On Carbon Tax

At a hastily-called news conference at the Statehouse, Republican leaders announced a sudden change of position on climate change: they are endorsing a carbon tax proposal that’s been languishing in the Legislature.

“It’s the right thing to do, and now is the right time,” said Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning.

“We’ve all been kidding ourselves,” added House Minority Leader Don Turner. “But the longer this winter went on, with so little snow and such high temperatures, well, we just couldn’t ignore it anymore.”

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Mr. Donka’s regrettable Facebook page

I sure hope the Vermont Republican Party can recruit a credible candidate to run against Congressman Peter Welch in 2016. Because if they leave the spot open for the likes of Mark Donka like they did in 2012 and 2014, they might suffer a wee bit of embarrassment. Because even as Phil Scott has been busily distancing himself from the far-right extremism of the Republican presidential field, the same sort of harsh rhetoric can be found in abundance on Donka’s Facebook page.

Which is basically a bunch of reposted Tea Party visuals full of conspiracy thinking, climate change denial, fear and hatred.

Some of which are also, um, fake.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 2.53.40 AM

Yeah, Mark? That never happened.

A photograph of Hillary Clinton shaking hands with terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has circulated online (divorced from its original context) ever since it was created for a Photoshop contest held back in 2007 by the web site FreakingNews.com.

Wups.

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Donald Trump is the apotheosis of modern Republicanism

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise that a super-wealthy real estate developer would run for President promising to turn America into a gated community.

Really, this is where Donald Trump’s rhetoric has been pointing since he launched his campaign by calling for “the greatest wall you’ve ever seen” to keep out Mexican criminals and rapists. His latest stand, for a ban on Muslims traveling to America, is of a kind with the Mexican wall. It’s just one tick crazier.

But after all the crazy shit Trump has said, the ban on Muslims was the straw that broke mainstream Republicans’ backs. Some Republicans, including a lot of Vermonters, sensing that the Crazy Line has been crossed, have finally criticized Trump as being out of step with true Republicanism.

Well, there’s a problem with that. It’s not true.

Donald Trump is, in fact, the inevitable end product of the past two decades of Republican and conservative politics.

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Cautionary notes on the Phil Scott inevitability, part 3: Deadweight party

See also: Part 1, addressing the massive turnout difference between presidential and non-presidential years; and part 2, on the unhelpfully archconservative nature of the Republican presidential field.

Strangely, there was no media presence at last Saturday’s meeting of the Vermont Republican Party.

I say “strangely” because the VTGOP’s four officers were up for re-election. And they haven’t been all that successful; the party continues to trail the Democrats in finances, staffing, and organization, both statewide and grassroots.

I couldn’t be there because I was out of town all weekend, but I have heard some news.

To begin with, in a sign that Executive Director Jeff Bartley doesn’t have his finger on the pulse, he scheduled the meeting for the opening weekend of hunting season. That’d seem to be a no-no for The Party Of Traditional Vermont (And Guns), if not for a young urbanite like Jeff. From what I hear, they barely mustered a quorum.

On the topline, there was no drama. All four officers were re-elected. Maybe the conservatives were out baggin’ deer, or maybe they just don’t have much to offer. (Two years ago, their choice for party chair was John MacGovern, who’s best known in these parts for being an ultraconservative joke candidate against Bernie Sanders in 2012. If he was the conservative wing’s best option, then ugh.)

Here’s something you’ll be surprised to hear. Both gubernatorial candidates addressed the “crowd,” and from the whispers reaching these ears, Phil Scott was underwhelming. How underwhelming? Well, Bruce Lisman looked good by comparison. Apparently, Scott rolled out his usual bumpf, while Lisman actually offered some red meat to the faithful.

In the long run, that’s probably meaningless. Scott remains the overwhelming favorite for the nomination, but there might just be a few chinks in the favorite’s armor.

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