Tag Archives: Dean Corren

How can I miss you when you won’t go away?

Audio accompaniment to this blogpost:

Well, good ol’ “Bitter Bob” Hartwell, outgoing Republicrat Senator from Bennington, has left his fellow Senators a parting gift: the op-ed equivalent of a flaming bag of poo, entitled “What Senate Democrats Must Do.”

Hartwell’s public statements have shifted to the right in recent months, starting with his infamous skepticism about climate change and continuing through his comments to VTDigger last week that the Democrats have gone too far to the left:

“There’s too much spending, there’s too much social engineering, going on. Our party is getting out of line,” he said.

His opinion piece is more of the same. It reads as though it comes, not from the moderate Democrat he claims to be, but from somewhere to the right of Phil Scott. Indeed, it’s a big fat sloppy wet kiss to the Republican Party, delivered one week before Election Day. I’m sure the timing is coincidental, cough, hack, choke.

Bitter Bob, doing research for his opinion piece.

Bitter Bob, doing research for his opinion piece.

He accuses the Democratic Party of becoming “more ideological and, therefore, less effective and more poorly focused on the real issues.” By which he means, the “real issues” that concern Bitter Bob Hartwell.

He then slaps around Democrats and the Shumlin Administration for the “poor rollout of Vermont Health Connect” and says “The Legislature must determine to put an end to the single payer scheme unless it can clearly show significant savings…”

A reminder: There are two goals in advancing single-payer. One is to bend the cost curve, and the other is to provide universal access to health care. If Bob is only interested in the former, well, I’m glad he will no longer represent the Democratic Party in the new biennium.

Then he gets to property taxes and school funding, which “inexcusably, the Legislature has done virtually nothing to control…” Remind me: wasn’t Bob Hartwell in the Legislature himself?

Also, in one badly-written sentence, he appears to endorse Scott Milne’s proposal for a freeze on property taxes.

Then he takes a dump on the Senate Education Committee for “a most unacceptable performance” in failing to address the issue to Hartwell’s satisfaction. He’s talkin’ to you, Dick McCormack, Don Collins, Phil Baruth, Bill Doyle and David Zuckerman.

Somehow I don’t think Bitter Bob was talking to his colleagues this way when the Senate was still in session and his words could have had some impact. Indeed, it’s hard to tell from this essay that Hartwell was a fairly influential member of the Senate majority instead of an innocent bystander.

He then slams “Vermont’s intoxication with large scale renewable energy,” which fits in with his doubts about climate change. It also buttresses his self-congratulatory impulses, as he upbraids the Senate for refusing to pass his bills to create new obstacles in the path of renewable energy.

After that, it’s on to the core Republican talking point: “Vermont continues to spend too much money,” especially on social services programs, and bitches about “throwing money at problems” in a way that’s straight out of the Angry Jack Lindley playbook.

Hmm. Angry Jack and Bitter Bob. The worst Vaudeville act ever.

And then Hartwell rants about something that’s only a major issue in his own mind: the legislature’s failure to repeal the Bottle Bill, which, he says, wastes money, contributes to carbon pollution*, and “shoves businesses… into New Hampshire.” And he takes a gratuitous slap at VPIRG — or, as Hartwell puts it, “one so-called ‘research’ group.”

* Which, according to Bob himself, isn’t really a problem.

The “get off my lawn” ranting continues for several more paragraphs, in which he bemoans the fact that nobody in the Senate is as wise as Bob Hartwell and unleashes a bunch of howlers, including:

— The Senate fails to act “as a team,” and instead pursues “the interests of each committee with little understanding of the effect… on the state as a whole.” Considering his hijacking of the Natural Resources Committee in pursuit of his favored hobbyhorses, that’s pretty rich.

— Vermont should be more like New Hampshire.

— Our economic doldrums have nothing to do with national trends, “but rather by policies internal to Vermont.”

— Dean Corren is a liar.

Yeah, that’s one huge stinking flaming bag of poo. Thanks, Bitter Bob, for giving us a farewell gesture that reminds us all how lucky we are that you’ve decided to get outta Dodge.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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. 

Countin’ scribbles

 The hardworkin’ town clerks of Vermont wake up this post-primary morning with an unfun little job ahead of them. They’ll actually have to count those pesky write-in votes, and the results will actually be meaningful.

 In one case, much more meaningful than any primary result involving names on the ballot. It’ll be a few more days before we get the tallies, so sit back, relax, and smoke ’em if you got ’em. (Preferably wacky tobacky; those ciggies’ll kill ya.)

The big unfinished business is the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor. No names on the ballot, just a whole bunch of write-ins. As of this writing, 87% of the votes counted, a total of 5,126 write-in votes for Lite-Gov. The unknown: How many were for Progressive Dean Corren (who actively sought the Democratic nod) and how many were for incumbent Republican Phil Scott (whose supporters urged write-ins on the Democratic slate)?

I have to think it’s Corren, because a straight-ahead “Vote for Me” effort is an easier sell than “Vote for My Guy So We Can Screw the Dems and/or He Can Cruise to Re-election.” But we’ll have to wait and see.

Also left hanging are the un-valuable Republican nominations for Attorney General, Auditor, Secretary of State, and Treasurer. The VTGOP failed to identify candidates for any of the offices, although the ill-fated RecruitFour effort did produce one write-in candidate, Shane McCormack for AG, who now has the active backing of the state party. For what that’s worth.

There were far more write-in votes for AG, so I’m suspecting McCormack will be Bill Sorrell’s sacrificial lamb this fall. As for the other three contests, who the hell knows. I’ve been actively hoping for fringe candidates to fill out the ticket, to the lasting embarrassment of the VTGOP. A homegrown Vermin Supreme, or perhaps a one-issue zealot like Annette Smith.

If there were any organized write-in campaigns, they flew under the radar. So it’ll be a few days before Vermont Republicans find out exactly what kind of nutjobs will fill out their 2014 statewide ticket.

 

Everybody loves good ol’ Phil

I think I’ve identified the source of Lake Champlain’s outbreak of blue-green algae: last week’s party in Senator Dick Mazza’s Corvette-laden “garage” on behalf of Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott. Enough horseshit was generated to feed an algae bloom for months.

I’m sorry I missed it. Guess my invitation got lost in the mail. Fortunately, the Freeploid’s Nancy Remsen was there, and made the Mazza Tov the centerpiece of her Phil Scott profile in the Sunday paper. From her account, I extract a few gems…

The Republican lieutenant governor glad-handed Republicans, Democrats, lobbyists and business leaders…

I guess Good Ol’ Phil won’t be a supporter of VPIRG’s campaign finance reform agenda. Just a guess.

“It is great to see such a bipartisan crowd,” [former Governor Jim] Douglas observed. He wasn’t surprised, he said, noting, “Phil Scott is the kind of Vermonter who doesn’t worry about someone’s party label.”

Immediately thereafter, Douglas revealed himself to be the kind of Vermonter who DOES worry about party labels:

Douglas urged the crowd to help re-elect Scott to “make sure we don’t have lopsided government.”

As I have observed before, should we be electing people based on affirmative action? Or should the onus be on Republicans to craft a message that actually resonates with the Vermont electorate?

Oh wait, here comes Senate Penitent Pro Tem John Campbell, who was on hand to offer his almost-not-quite-nudge-nudge-wink-wink non-endorsement.

“I’m here to support a friend,” Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor, said as he stood near Scott in the Corvette showroom. Campbell qualified his support, saying, “I’m not raising funds for Phil.”

Isn’t that nice. I guess I shouldn’t think of this as treason.

No, I guess not, because as Campbell says, he’d support a real actual Democrat for Lieutenant Governor, but he won’t support Progressive Dean Corren even if he wins the Democratic nomination. Campbell just can’t overlook Corren’s long-ago “bashing” of Democrats, even though today’s Corren has definitively foresworn any and all Dem-bashing, promises to work hand-in-hand with Democrats, and is much more politically aligned with Governor Shumlin than is Phil Scott. But I guess Campbell, like Jim Douglas, is unfortunately obsessed with party labels.

Also on hand, making excuses for their Phil-anthropy, were State Senator Dick McCormack and Burlington Democrat Ed Adrian. McCormack “acknowledged that his views on many issues are probably closer to Corren’s, ‘but what I’ve done with Phil really counts for a lot.'”

Awwwww, how thweet. As for Adrian, well, he offered his own variation on the VTGOP’s affirmative action theme: keep Phil around as the token Republican.

If Democrats occupy every position of power, they are just going to fight among themselves. What is wrong with having a moderate, token Republican who would frankly be considered a Democrat elsewhere in the country?

Sorry, Ed, color me unconvinced. What’s wrong with having a “token Republican” in the Lieutenant Governor’s office is that, as a member of the Senate Rules Committee and the tiebreaking vote on legislation, he could become a significant roadblock in the push for single-payer health care and campaign finance reform. And I am unmoved by the fact that Scott would be considered a Democrat in West Virginia or Nebraska. It’s like Roger Allbee running for a Democratic Senate seat in Windham County: he may be a liberal Republican and he might make a really good Senator from, oh, Rutland County or the Northeast Kingdom, but he’s too centrist for the Windham electorate. Same with Scott: he’d be a fine Lite-Gov if it were entirely a ceremonial position, and he’d be a breath of fresh air in Montana or Wyoming, but as Lieutenant Governor of Vermont he’s a potential obstacle to Governor Shumlin’s top priority. Which is why Shumlin has all but endorsed Dean Corren.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never had the chance to fall under the up-close-and-personal spell of Phil Scott’s charms*, but I don’t get the Scott fetishism among so many of our Democratic officeholders. It’s reminding me quite a bit of the Vince Illuzzi fetishism of two years ago. Nobody gave Doug Hoffer much of a chance because he was a Progressive, and a rather abrasive one at that, while Everybody Loved Vince.

*Maybe it’s his private-label cologne, a bi-attractant blend of pleasing moderation with rich, manly undertones of racing fuel and asphalt. 

Except when it came Election Day, it turned out that the inside-the-Dome crowd didn’t represent the electorate as a whole. I’m hoping the same thing happens with Corren, for the sake of single-payer’s prospects in the Senate, and in order to drive another stake into the heart of the old-boys’ network, go-along-get-along atmosphere that beclouds our Most Stagnant Deliberative Body.

Cronyism and disloyalty in the State Senate

So the Democrats (and Prog/Dems) have a supermajority in the Vermont Senate. They rule the roost. And they’re almost certain to retain a big edge next year; even the Republicans are hoping to win no more than two or three seats.

Which makes me wonder why the two Democratic members of a key committee, plus the chair of a very important committee, have endorsed a Republican for one of Vermont’s highest offices, and are likely to get away with this bit of disloyalty.

I’m talking about John Campbell and Dicks Mazza and Sears. The first two sit on the Senate’s Committee on Committees along with their favorite Republican, Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott. Sears chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. All three have endorsed their buddy Scott and turned their backs on the likely Democratic standard-bearer* and only liberal in the race, Progressive Dean Corren, in spite of the fact that Governor Shumlin has given public support to Corren.

*Corren has to win the Democratic primary as a write-in. He should be able to do that, but it’s no sure thing; Mazza’s openly talking of a write-in campaign for Scott. Which would lead to a goddamn embarrassment for Vermont’s dominant party: a Republican in the #2 spot on its ticket. 

If these men keep their privileged positions, it’ll be a disgrace. And, based on past history, it’ll almost certainly happen.

The Committee on Committees is an obscure bit of Senate hierarchy, with one big exception. Every two years, they select all the chairs and members of all the Senate committees. That is one big moment of muscle-flexing for an otherwise quiescent body.

The three members of the CoC are: the Senate President (Lieutenant Governor), the President Pro Tem, and a Senator elected by the entire Senate. For many years now, Dick Mazza has been rubber-stamped into this position — even though this is far from the first time he’s endorsed a top Republican. He supported Brian Dubie for Governor in 2010, and has backed Phil Scott every time he’s run for Lieutenant Governor.

The lopsided Democratic majority could eject Mazza in a hot minute and instead reward a more faithful member of their party. They could also choose a President Pro Tem who’s more in step with the party’s mainstream. And the new CoC could replace Sears on Judiciary. But, given the hidebound, clubby nature of the Senate, I fully expect that all three will retain their influential positions this fall.

There’s no good reason for this. The explanation, of course, is the mutual respect of Senators and their unwillingness to publicly embarrass a colleague. Which is not a good reason, just a dearly-held rationale in the hearts of our solons.

Campbell, Mazza, and Sears do not deserve to be rewarded for their disloyalty. If there’s anything like party discipline within the one-sided majority, the Senate’s Committee on Committees will get a makeover. And, ideally, somebody else will wield the gavel come January.

But, as I said, I don’t expect it to happen. The Senate’s too damn clubby for that.

(It’s not often these days that Vermont Republicans get to enjoy a laugh at the Dems’ expense. They must be blowing chortle-bubbles in their Scotch glasses over this.)

The Campaign Finance Report Day That Was: more miscellany

I’m going to put off a couple items till tomorrow, if you don’t mind: The full impact of Governor Shumiln’s money tsunami, and the Curious Case of the Local Republican Committees. For now, let’s clean out the ol’ inbox.

— If dollars are any indication, the Windham County Democratic Senate primary is definitely taking shape. Incumbent Jeanette White hasn’t submitted a report, which most likely means she raised and spent little or nothing. Okay, so she’s the incumbent. Two other Dem candidates posted relatively meager totals: Joan Bowman and “The Artful Roger” Allbee. The financial powerhouse in the race is Becca Balint, who raised more than $10,000 and spent about $4200. Her many donors include one Jane Lynch of Los Angeles, California, who kicked in a cool grand. Would this be the Jane Lynch of Glee fame? Don’t know.

But most of Balint’s money came from within the county. Which is a sign that the local money is on her side, and she’s off to a sizeable lead over her competition. (Recap: there are two Senate seats in Windham County. Jeanette White’s running for re-election, and Peter Galbraith is, praise the Lord, not. There are four candidates on the Dem primary ballot, fighting for two spots. No Republicans have entered the race, unless you count former Douglas Administration functionary Allbee, who’s running as a Dem.

— As far as I can tell, the most well-endowed (please hold the locker-room yucks) Senate candidate is one Dustin Degree of Franklin County. He’s raised over $15,000, including $6,000 from members of the Vallee family. One notable expense: $1700 to the St. Albans Messenger for what Degree’s filing calls “print adds.” A bit of remedial spelling is in order chez Degree.

Phil Scott has picked up his fundraising pace, now that he has to deal with the publicly-funded Dean Corren. Our Lieutenant Governor carried forward a $41,000 balance from his yawnfest of a win over Cass Gekas; he’s raised $61,000 and spent a chunk of that, leaving him with a current cash balance of $78,000. He vows that he will match Corren’s $200,000 in public-financing dollars with at least that much of his own. A lot of his contributions, natch, are from corporations and business-friendly PACs.

— Two years after losing to Bill Sorrell in the Democratic primary, TJ Donovan has finally closed out his campaign account. He’s folded virtually all the remaining funds — more than $4,600 — into his campaign for re-election as Chittenden County State’s Attorney. Which is probably $4,599 more than he will need to win. I guess he can always open up a new Attorney General campaign committee and shift the money back over.

— Donovan’s campaign filing for State’s Attorney had one interesting donation: $1,000 from Thom Lauzon, the Republican Mayor of Barre. 

— Lenore Broughton’s colossal waste of money, Vermonters First, looks to be inactive for this season. The SuperPAC is carrying a balance of roughly $3,000, but there was virtually no activity during the most recent reporting period. If Broughton is gearing up for another push, she’s hiding it well. (Oh, and her new Minion of Record is Robert Maynard, best known as a writer for the useless True North Reports. Her former Minion, Tayt Brooks, landed himself a new gig with the conservative movement-building enterprise American Majority.)

FedEx may be unfriendly to union organizing, but it seems to like Democrats — at least in Vermont. The FedEx PAC gave $4,000 to Governor Shumlin’s campaign, plus $1,000 each to the Vermont Democratic Party and the Dems’ House Campaign Committee. And not a sou for the GOP. Sad.

That’s it for tonight. Tune in tomorrow for the last two big items from filing deadline day. And thanks for reading; this site set a new record for single-day pageviews, and I appreciate the traffic and the implied respect.

Early afternoon thoughts on campaign finance filing day

First, a couple newsworthy Tweets from VPR’s Peter Hirschfeld. He reports that the Scott Milne campaign will report roughly $20,000 in contributions, and that Phil Scott will report about $50,000. Milne’s total is awfully pitiful; Scott’s still got a ways to go to catch up with Dean Corren, who qualifies for up to $200,000 in public financing.

As of 1 p.m., neither candidate had actually filed. Other notes:

— The aforementioned Corren reported just under $20,000 in donations from 862 donors. No single donation is worth more than $50. That’s an impressive show of organization and appeal.

— If you want a snapshot of the relative financial pull of the Democrats and Republicans, take a look at their respective House campaign operations. The Dems have raised a daunting $108,000 for their House campaign kitty and spent almost all of that. Notable on the expense ledger are salaries for two campaign staffers — just for the House campaign. (The Repubs, at last check, had one paid staffer for the entire state party. Might be two.) The Republicans’ House campaign operation has raised a paltry $12,000 and spent about 5K.

— Most of the House Dems’ money has come from two sources: State Representatives financially supporting a joint campaign, and corporations and their PACs. Big bucks from MVP Health Care, the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, the Vermont Realtor PAC, New England Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the Corrections Corporation of America (yuck), among others.

— You know which PAC has taken in more money than the Republicans’ House campaign? The Common Sense Leadership PAC, the brainchild of House Minority Leader Don Turner. He’s raised $26,000 for this cycle and spent $12,000. None of it on donations to House candidates. He has paid $2700 to consultant Shayne Spence, and $900 to Johnston Consulting. Why he’s wasting money on Darcie Johnston’s “expertise” only he can say. Turner raised $10,000 of his money in $2000 increments from two stalwart Republican families: the Vallees and the Pizzagallis.

— In the closely-watched State Senate race in Windham County, Joan Bowman has reported donations totaling $1500. But about three-quarters of that is from herself or her family. Bowman is one of four Democrats running for two Senate nominations in August: the others are incumbent Jeanette White, former Douglas Administration cabinet member “Artful” Roger Allbee, and newcomer Becca Balint. It’ll be interesting to see how much Balint takes in; from the outside, it looks like she and Bowman are in a face-off for the non-White, non-Allbee votes.

Bill Doyle doesn’t have to lift a finger, and isn’t. He’s sitting on a balance of $6,500 from previous campaigns. He’s raised $100 this year and spent nothing. I think he’s rightly confident.

Pat McDonald, the former Republican State Rep who’s now running for one of Washington County’s three seats, has racked up a noteworthy $10,000 in donations. She’s spent about half of that.

Doug Hoffer has raised a modest $4400 and spent most of it. Well, he is essentially unopposed in his bid for a second term as Auditor. The bulk of his spending was in two contributions to the state Democratic organization: $1500 to the party, and $2250 to the Dems’ “coordinated campaign.” I guess Doug’s taking this “Prog running as a Prog/Dem” thing seriously.

— Former Republican Representative Oliver Olsen, on the comeback trail as an Independent, is raking in the cash (by House standards). He’s raised $5,700, and spent almost nothing.

— Who hasn’t been a candidate in four years, but keeps on filing campaign finance reports? Matt Dunne, that’s who. He filed as “not a candidate” and reported a carry-over surplus of $2,856.54.

— Former Democratic State Senator Bill Carris, who resigned for health reasons in 2012 (Eldred French was appointed to fill out his term), has liquidated his campaign funds. He had $9400 on hand, and distributed it to a variety of candidates and the state Democratic Party. Notable gifts: $2000 to Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, $1000 to French’s re-election campaign, and $1800 to his son William Tracy Carris, who’s also running for a Democratic nomination in Rutland County, which has a total of three Senate seats.

— Perhaps the most active of Republican groups so far, at least in terms of supporting candidates, is the Green Mountain Republican Senatorial Committee, which has raised over $15,000 and given healthy start-up contributions of $1500 each to Senator Kevin Mullin and Senate candidate Brian Cullamore, both of Rutland county; and $1,000 apiece to Senator Norm McAllister and Senate hopefuls Dustin Degree, Pat McDonald, Joy Limoge, and Bob Frenier.

I’ll be watching the filings all afternoon. (What a life.) More updates later. Stay tuned!