Tag Archives: Dean Corren

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!


Phil Scott’s turning out to be a right whiny li’l bastard

Update: He’s also whining — a lot — about Governor Shumlin. See below. 

For the first time in his Lieutenant Gubernatorial life, Phil Scott faces an honest-to-goodness, fully-financed candidate who can match him dollar for dollar.

And how does Everybody’s Buddy react to the situation?

Kicking, screaming, and griping, pretty much. 

Our Lieutenant Governor. (Not exactly as illustrated)

Our Lieutenant Governor. (Not exactly as illustrated)

As reported by VTDigger’s Anne Galloway, Scott’s recent speech to a Republican gathering was full of complaining about Dean Corren’s publicly financed campaign.

Scott bemoaned the notion that the money for public financing will come out of the state budget.

“It’s coming out of our tax dollars in some form,” Scott said.

Well, yes and no. As debated and approved by the State Legislature, the money is set aside for the purpose of financing any candidate who qualifies for it — which is a very difficult thing to do. Corren had to amass more than 750 donations from registered Vermont voters, none of which could be over $50. He did it in a little over a month. This system’s been in place for quite a few years, and Scott never uttered a peep of protest until now, when the system is aimed squarely at his precious sinecure.

This isn’t the first time Scott has whinged about public financing since Corren qualified. Indeed, so far, it seems to be the major running theme of his campaign.

Which could be a matter of principle. But there’s a distinct whiff of sour grapes about the whole thing. If Scott continues down this very unappealing trail, he could lose a lot of his bipartisan appeal.

Also, he said one thing that prompts a Serenade For Tiny Violins:

“I receive letters from people who said I can’t afford to send you money, I’m living on a fixed income. I support your cause, I support you. Please help us, please make the state more affordable so we can all live here.”

See, Phil Scott’s at a disadvantage because all of his potential supporters among Vermont’s poor and retiree population can’t afford to underwrite his campaign. And it’s all because of Dean Corren’s heartless raid on the public treasury, forcing their tax burdens ever higher.

But that’s not the end of Scott’s bellyaching. He’s also repeating, ad nauseam, his displeasure with Governor Shumlin’s endorsement of Corren. The Freeploid’s Terri Hallenbeck:

Scott said he was surprised that though Shumlin has said he will steer clear of his own re-election campaign until September, he decided to weigh in on the lieutenant governor’s race. “I thought he made up his mind he wasn’t going to campaign until Labor Day. I guess he didn’t include me in that,” Scott said.

Awww. Poor baby.

Although I’d dearly love to see a campaign featuring the whiny bastard side of Phil Scott, it’d be best for our public discourse and for the dignity of the Office Of The Lieutenant Governor if he would stop complaining and face up to the task at hand. You know, roll up his sleeves and get to work.

He’s supposed to be good at that, isn’t he?

Holy moly, are Dick Mazza’s knickers in a twist

Crossposted at Green Mountain Daily.

Apparently the race for Lieutenant Governor won’t entirely be the Prog/Dem kumbaya sing that seemed likely when Governor Shumlin endorsed Progressive Dean Corren. Because here comes Dick Mazza, putative Democrat and close friend of Phil Scott, pissing in the communal punchbowl.  Peter “Mr. Microphone” Hirschfeld:

Among Corren’s Democratic detractors is state Sen. Dick Mazza, a political power broker from Grand Isle who will attempt to use his sway to thwart Corren’s bid for the nomination.

… After Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin expressed support for Corren’s candidacy last week, Mazza says he was flooded with calls from angry pro-Scott Democrats. The result is a newly sprouted coalition of Democrats that Mazza says will work hard to deliver Scott to a third term.

Mazza is talking about an active organization to raise money for Scott and even write him in on the Democratic primary ballot.

Which would be an absolute disgrace.

I detect two strains of thought behind Democrats’ prospective betrayal. First, and relatively understandable, is that some moderate Dems would feel more ideologically at home with Phil Scott than Dean Corren. I can accept that.

What I can’t stomach is the other thing: that some Dems just hate the thought of supporting a Prog, even if there’s broad agreement on the issues.

Look, I realize I’m not a member of this Mutual Aggravation Society that some Dems and some Progs are part of. Because of past slights, real or imagined, they just can’t stand the other guys. A couple years ago a local Democrat wrote a letter to the Times Argus complaining that Shumlin had had the gall to appoint a Progressive to some state commission, and that this Dem would never again vote for Shumlin.

That kind of attitude astounds me.

Maybe if I were part of the long history of the Dem/Prog competitive coexistence I’d get it. But in this day and age, when the two parties work closely together on many issues — and many campaigns — it seems remarkably retrograde. Which is as good an adjective as any to describe Dick Mazza, Senator For Life and Friend Of Phil.