Tag Archives: Deb Bucknam

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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Bad days for the VTGOP

You could excuse Phil Scott for feeling down in the dumps these days. There was the ice-bath shock of the VPR Poll, showing a dead heat in the race for governor. Then came a huge weekend of high-energy unity rallies for the Democratic ticket featuring Bernie Sanders, Pat Leahy, and Peter Welch thumping the tub for Sue Minter ad company, plus President Obama cutting a radio spot for her.

And now comes an ABC News poll showing Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 12 percentage points.

The growing gap is bad enough, but the worse news for Scott is deeper in the poll results.

The previous ABC/Post poll found a sharp 12-point decline in enthusiasm for Trump among his supporters, almost exclusively among those who’d preferred a different GOP nominee. Intended participation now has followed: The share of registered Republicans who are likely to vote is down 7 points since mid-October.

That’s a tangible sign that Trump is becoming a dead weight on down-ballot Republicans. And more evidence that Phil Scott has his work cut out for him, in what was once thought to be a cakewalk for the VTGOP’s King-in-Waiting.

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Campaign finance according to Deb Bucknam

The Republican candidate for Attorney General, Deb Bucknam, has a… shall we say unique… approach to the issue of money in politics. The problem, in her eyes, isn’t corporate donations or Citizens United or the Koch Brothers or dark-money SuperPACs or outside interests flooding Vermont with their barely regulated and lavishly funded nonprofits.

None of that. The real problem is Pat Leahy.

Hey. You in the back, stop laughing.

Bucknam laid out her reasoning, if that’s what you can call it, in an interview with Chris Lenois of Brattleboro’s WKVT Radio. (The interview also ran on Brattleboro’s community access cable channel and can be seen here.)

It should be noted that elsewhere, Bucknam has offered a full-throated defense of the Citizens United decision. In fact, she claims that overturning Citizens United would inevitably involve limiting the First Amendment rights of all Americans.

Back to the Lenois interview. He asked a question about regulating money in politics.  She began by asserting that money is a necessary part of politics and trying to regulate it is doomed to failure. But she sees one ray of hope:

If we limited — not donors so much — but candidates themselves, how a candidate can spend the money they receive, that may help solve the money in politics problem.

At this point, I was honesty puzzled. What in the Sam Hill was she driving at?

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Party of One

The leader of the State House’s perpetually undersized Republican caucus is feeling his oats.

[House] Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, said he believes the Republican Party can increase its presence in the chamber from the current 53 seats to 76 — a majority.

I understand it’s part of his job to put on a brave face, but there is no way on God’s green Earth that the Republicans rack up a net gain of 23 House seats. After all, 2014 was a horrible year for Vermont Democrats; their ticket-topper was the roundly unpopular Peter Shumlin, there was no race for President or U.S. Senator, and turnout was dramatically depressed. And even with all that in their favor, the VTGOP only managed a net gain of eight seats in the House.

Eight.

And 2016 should be a bounceback year for the House Democrats. (More on this below.)

There’s also the inconvenient fact that the House Republicans’ campaign warchest appears to be in the red. According to its most recent campaign finance filing, the Vermont House Republican PAC has raised $5,095 this campaign cycle and spent $7,832.74. That dip into penury was triggered by an Attorney General’s ruling that the PAC had improperly accepted contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session. It had to return $3,000 in donations and pay a $2,000 fine.

So, no help there. But it’s not like the VHRPAC is alone. Pretty much every Republican aside from Phil Scott is begging for spare change.

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TJ steps up

Will wonders never cease. No sooner than the U.S. Justice Department decides to ease its way out of the private prison business, than the Democratic candidate for Attorney General forcefully advocates the same move for Vermont.

What’s more, he believes it will be simple. From an email blast received Saturday evening:

There is a lot we need to do for criminal justice reform, but most people would agree that we should stop shipping Vermonters to out-of-state, for-profit prisons.

… This is one obvious step I believe we can take in the first 100 days of the next legislative session in 2017.

Well.

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A skeleton or two in Ms. Bucknam’s closet (UPDATED)

On Friday afternoon, we learned that Saint Johnsbury-based attorney Deb Bucknam had declared her candidacy for Attorney General on the Republican ticket, thus assuring the VTGOP of at least token representation in the race against Democrat TJ Donovan.

At the time, I noted the trail of online writings that reveal Ms. Bucknam to be a hard-right conservative who doesn’t believe in public education or global warming, wants to privatize Social Security, and thinks Calvin Coolidge was a great president. Among other things.

Well, a VPO commenter has disclosed a potentially disqualifying item in Bucknam’s legal career: back in 1992, her law license was suspended for 30 days* and she served a further one-year probationary period for “a pattern of misconduct” that encompassed “multiople offenses” including “outright lying to clients” and “chang[ing] the fee arrangement” without prior agreement with the clients. (All quotes from the Professional Conduct Board’s Notice of Decision, PCB File 89.53.)

*Note: Bucknam posted a Comment (below) letting us know that her suspension was overturned by the Vermont Supreme Court; she was instead “reprimanded and placed on probation,” she says. My own searches did not uncover any mention of the Supreme Court action. The facts of the case otherwise remain the same.

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One less blank spot on the Republican ticket

Hey, the VTGOP has a candidate for Attorney General!

The challenger to putative Democratic nominee TJ Donovan is none other than Deb Bucknam, an attorney based in St. Johnsbury. She’s a former VTGOP state vice chair and Caledonia County GOP chair, and she once managed her husband Charlie’s extremely unsuccessful campaign for State Senate. That appears to be the extent of her political experience; at age 69, she will be making her first bid for public office.

Seven Days’ Paul Heintz first reported the news, in a friendly piece about how Donovan will face a challenge, after all, from this nice lady out of the Northeast Kingdom.

Not much of a challenge, I’m afraid. I give Bucknam virtually zero chance to beat Donovan, who has already raised more than enough money for a robust campaign and who will have the advantages of a well-funded, muscular party apparatus and a ticket with Hillary Clinton and Pat Leahy at the top. Bucknam will get the usual bag o’ beans from the VTGOP.

Besides, Bucknam is an ideologue through and through, a far-right Tea Party type.

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