In today’s first gubernatorial debate of the general election campaign, David Zuckerman showed us how it can be done. He came straight at Gov. Phil Scott with a well-articulated progressive critique. He was polished, he was focused, he fought the good fight, and it probably won’t do him a damn bit of good.
Interstitial note: The debate was cosponsored by Vermont Public Radio and Public Television, but for the life of me I can’t find the video online. The link above is to the VPR audio.
It was the stoutest debate challenge Scott has faced in his three gubernatorial campaigns — and more. Zuckerman is the first experienced statewide campaigner Scott has faced in his SIX runs for governor or lieutenant governor.
Scott has usually had the benefit of facing the B-Team. Previous opponents did their best, but Cassandra Gekas, Dean Corren, Sue Minter and Christine Hallquist ain’t exactly Murderers’ Row. All four were in their first statewide campaigns, and two had never run for any office. Scott has also enjoyed the soft opposition of those willing to cast him as a well-meaning Nice Guy who’s kind of a Republican In Name Only.
There is a solid Democratic/Progressive critique of Scott; it’s just sat on the shelf for most of the past decade. Zuckerman pulled it down and discovered that there’s some power in that weapon.
Unfortunately, he drew the short straw. He’s opposing Scott at the high point of the governor’s popularity. But Zuckerman is drawing a roadmap for future campaigns against Scott, and may at least put some dents into that Teflon coat.
As for Mr. Nice Guy, he responded with some rare attacks at Zuckerman and quite a bit of passive-aggressiveness — Scott’s favorite variety of aggressiveness when he’s not behind the wheel of Big Green No 14. At this point in his tenure, all aglow with the universal praise for his handling of the pandemic, Phil Scott is unaccustomed to confrontation.
He also, at this stage of his political career, fresh out of new ideas.Continue reading