Tag Archives: Dottie Deans

The superdelegate schmozz

Having proven its electoral mettle in the New Hampshire primary, the Bernie Sanders campaign is apparently now just realizing that the Democratic Party’s nominating process is not entirely, well, democratic. 

Of the nearly 4,500 delegates who will cast a vote at next July’s Democratic National Convention, an estimated 713 of them are so-called “superdelegates” — party muckety-mucks who can vote however they please.

And surprise, surprise: a lot of the muckety-mucks are backing Hillary Clinton. Resulting in this seeming contradiction:

Bernie Sanders lost by a hair in Iowa and won by a landslide in New Hampshire. Yet Hillary Clinton has amassed an enormous 350-delegate advantage over the Vermont senator after just two states.

That’s because more than half of the unelected superdelegates have endorsed Clinton — although they are under no legal obligation to vote for her at the convention.

All of which prompts outrage in the Sanders camp. Outrage you might expect me to share.

Well, sorry, but I don’t.

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Old dog, old trick

Unsurprisingly, VTGOP chair David Sunderland has rejected VPIRG head Paul Burns’ invitation to a public debate on the idea of a carbon tax. I’m sure that Burns would press him, not only on that issue, but on where Sunderland stands on climate change. After all, his only public statement on climate change was a denialist claim that there’s “science on both sides.”

No, Dave. There’s the scientific community on one side, and a handful of tame “experts” on the fossil fuel industry payroll plus a few cranks operating outside of their core competency. Recent revelations about ExxonMobil make this even more clear: nearly four decades ago, the oil giant’s own scientists concluded that climate change was real and caused by human activity.

Well, instead of debating a very knowledgeable person who heads an organization which supports a carbon tax, Sunderland has seized the opportunity to renew a pointless call for a debate with Dottie Deans, his Democratic counterpart. His wafer-thin rationale: the carbon tax is “sponsored by over two dozen Democrat legislators,” hence it must be a Democratic — pardon, “Democrat” — idea, hence Ms. Deans is responsible for defending it.

Yeah, well, nuts. Unless the carbon tax is in the Democrats’ platform, Deans is not answerable for it.

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The Eternal General Strikes Back (Warning: SATIRE)

Y'know, this picture works with almost any song lyric.

Y’know, this picture works with almost any song lyric.

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell, having come under intense criticism for his handling of campaign finance prosecutions and his own questionable compliance with the law, came out in true Two-Fisted Attorney General fashion late Friday.

(Warning: SATIRE.)

In a hastily-called news conference, Sorrell announced the filing of several new accusations against Dean Corren, last year’s Democratic and Progressive candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

Sorrell had previously charged Corren with violating the state’s public financing law by accepting tangible assistance from the Democratic Party, namely an email blast with an estimated value of $255. Sorrell’s proposed punishment for this crime: a total of $72,000 in fines and reimbursements.

“I have been accused of excessive zeal in this prosecution,” said Sorrell, a brace of assistant and deputy Attorneys General forming a semi-circle behind him. “To the contrary, I have uncovered even more violations by Mr. Corren. Taken together, they paint a clear and unmistakable picture of a rogue campaign.”

Among the new charges against Corren:

— At a Democratic State Committee meeting, Corren sneezed and a party official loaned him a handkerchief. “A tissue would have been within the bounds of the law,” noted Sorrell, “but a piece of haberdashery is clearly a significant gift that Mr. Corren could have potentially used throughout the remainder of his campaign.”

(Warning: more SATIRE… after the jump.)
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Ethical issues in Dean Corren’s TV campaign

Questions have been raised about a couple of Dean Corren’s TV ads. One of them claims that incumbent Lt. Gov. Phil Scott has been endorsed by Right to Life; another shows a series of high-profile politicos who’ve endorsed Corren, but includes a picture of two state senators who have not.

The former is explored by the Freeploid’s Nancy Remsen today. The ad in question features several women talking about reproductive rights. (Their names are not mentioned; one of them is state Democratic Party chair Dottie Deans.) They extol Corren’s support of reproductive rights, and then one of them says “Dean Corren is endorsed by Planned Parenthood; his opponent, by Right to Life.”

Kerfuffle ensues.

Phil Scott insists he is pro-choice, although he does support parental notification for minors seeking abortions, which is one of Right to Life’s pet causes. (It sounds fine in theory, but in practice, a lot of girls seeking abortions come from troubled homes. In some cases, they were impregnated by a family member. Parental notification opens a big fat can of worms.)

In fact, Right to Life has not endorsed Scott, but it has “recommended” him. Corren says this is a distinction without a difference: Scott has Right to Life’s support, if not technically the endorsement. The ad doesn’t mischaracterize Scott’s positions; it just points out that he’s backed by an anti-abortion group.

The Corren people could change the narration to say “Dean Corren is endorsed by Planned Parenthood; his opponent is supported by Right to Life.” The impact of the ad would be unchanged. I don’t think it’s that big a deal either way.

As for the other ad… it starts with Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsing Corren. (Well, technically, he says “I’m voting for Dean Corren,” so maybe Phil Scott would argue that that’s not an “endorsement.”)

And then, for a solid five seconds, there’s a still photo of several Dem and/or Prog officeholders posing together.

I hadn't realized our Auditor was so butch.

I hadn’t realized our Auditor was so butch.

From left to right, we have Sen. Ginny Lyons, Sen. Tim Ashe, Cong. Peter Welch, Auditor Doug Hoffer, Dean Corren, Sen. Phil Baruth, and Sen. David Zuckerman.

After that, the ad cycles through other images and names, and ends with Bernie.

But that one picture is the problem. Lyons and Ashe have not endorsed Corren. Lyons has pointedly not made an endorsement; Ashe has been silent.

The ad is factually accurate. It doesn’t claim endorsements from Lyons or Ashe. But the implication is obvious, and it’s misleading. That picture is on screen for five seconds, which is an eternity in TV ad time. And the big colorful campaign signs clearly identify the two senators, tying them visibly to the endorsement list.

Otherwise, the ad is excellent. It’s well-produced and effective. It drives home the point that Corren is supported by a broad range of liberal and progressive individuals and groups. But that one image is deceptive. It’s within the letter of the law, but violates the spirit. I’d expect better from Corren.

Big unity tour this weekend

Well, huzzah. Two of the state’s top politicos are joining together to make a weekend-long push for the Democratic ticket — including the unloved-in-some-quarters Prog/Dem candidate for Lt. Gov., Dean Corren.

The tour begins Saturday morning with a brunch and rally in Bristol, and a midafternoon gig in Proctor. On Sunday, there’s a morning event in Hinesburg, and a late afternoon affair in one of the state’s major battlegrounds, St. Albans. (Details can be found at the end of this post.)

Dean & Bernie. Not pictured: John Campbell, Dick Mazza, Ginny Lyons, Tim Ashe, Jeanette White, etc., etc., etc.

Dean & Bernie. Not pictured: John Campbell, Dick Mazza, Ginny Lyons, Tim Ashe, Jeanette White, etc., etc., etc.

The headliners: Gov. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Bernie Sanders. That ought to get the blood circulating. The Shumlin campaign’s news release says the two will appear with “local candidates at each event.”

Curiously, the Shumlin release doesn’t mention Corren or any other statewide candidates who might come along for the ride. The Corren news comes from an email to Vermont Democrats from party chair Dottie Deans, highlighting Corren’s presence in the events. And she’s making it clear that the party’s support of Corren is not at all begrudging:

Dean has openly shared his positions and ideas for stimulating the economy, enacting health care reform, supporting job growth and positioning Vermont to be a leader in taking on climate change. In addition, he has been enthusiastically endorsed by the Vermont Democratic Party’s State Committee and some of our most prominent leaders. I believe Dean would make an excellent Lt. Governor…

This week also brought an enthusiastic Corren endorsement by Sen. Pat Leahy. This is all a nice palliative to the rank stench of timidity wafting from the state senate.

Speaking of which, I wonder if any of those Senators who’ve voiced disdain for the idea of endorsing a Prog will be more than happy to share a stage with Bernie.

That’d be ironic, wouldn’t it now?

Saturday, October 25:

9:30 a.m. – Bristol Event – Free brunch @ 9:30 a.m., event @ 10:00 a.m – Holley Hall, 1 South St.

2:00 p.m. – Proctor Event – Coffee and desert @ 2:00 p.m. – Vermont Marble Museum, 52 Main St.

Sunday, October 26:

10:00 a.m. – Hinesburg Event – Free brunch @ 10:00 a.m., event @ 10:30 a.m. – Champlain Valley Union High School, 69 CVU Rd.

5:30 p.m. – St. Albans Event – Free dinner @ 5:30 p.m., event @ 6 p.m. – St. Albans Historical Museum, 9 Church St.

Still a publicity stunt

VTGOP Chair “Super Dave” Sunderland continues to push his hokey “challenge” to meet his Dem counterpart, Dottie Deans, for a debate on the Vermont economy. He first threw down the gauntlet in a letter dated July 10, and has occasionally refreshed it via Twitter ever since. Last night, for instance:

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 8.30.24 AM

Funny, it hasn’t drawn a reply from Deans, nor has it attracted the slightest interest from the Vermont media. Pretty sure I’m the only person who’s reported it (outside of GOP circles), and that’s only been to make fun of it.

Because it’s a publicity stunt, and Super Dave knows it. He knew from the start that Deans wouldn’t respond. He was just hoping for a little free publicity, or simply for the chance to call Deans a coward.

Which she isn’t, not at all. She’s kinda busy these days, having a strong party apparatus and a robust staff to manage. I realize that Super Dave is just kinda rattling around in his largely empty VTGOP headquarters (paid staff: TWO, and both probably part time*) and thus has time to issue bogus challenges. And I realize that he’s grasping at straws for free media. But he knows that it’s not the party chair’s job to engage in public debates.

*Considering that “Victory Coordinator” Jeff Bartley is still on staff at the Tarrant family firm MyWebGrocer and, per his Twitter feed, recently took a trip to Disney World, I doubt that he’s got his shoulder to the campaign wheel 24/7. 

The party chair is responsible for the organization, administration, and growth of a party’s infrastructure. It’s a big job, and it’s primarily done behind the scenes. Dottie Deans knows what her job is, and what it isn’t. You’ll note that, as reflected in the above Tweet, she doesn’t even have a Twitter account of her own. If Super Dave hasn’t achieved a similar level of clarity about his own responsibilities, well, that’s his lookout.

Besides, there’d be little public interest in a debate between two party chairs. The vast majority of voters see high-profile candidates as a party’s public face, not some internal functionary. Voters will pay attention to the Shumlin/Milne debates this fall. They would have no reason to watch a debate between two people who are not running for any office where they might actually affect public policy. 

So it’s a publicity stunt, then, now, and forever.

Vermont Republicans quickly becoming incoherent

Looks like the Vermont Republican Party has decided a guns-a-blazin’, all-out hysterical attack on “the stagnant Shumlin economy” is their ticket to the meager legislative gains they’re hoping for in November.

And, naturally, they’re doubling down on the “F” grade supposedly given Vermont in a national survey of small business owners. Not only are they repeating their earlier claims, they’re getting the facts even wronger.

The VTGOP’s latest news release again refers to “a report by highly respected national magazine The Economist which ranked Vermont among 5 states receiving a grade of ‘F’ for their small business friendliness.”

Okay, where do we begin.

It’s not a “report,” it was a survey. An unscientific survey in which thousands of questionnaires were sent to business owners nationwide.

It wasn’t by “The Economist,” it was by Thumbtack.com.

The Economist isn’t a “national magazine.” It’s a global one, and its headquarters are in Great Britain.

And, once again, Vermont did not receive a grade — at all — in this year’s survey. The “F” came out of the 2012 survey. Thumbtack didn’t receive enough responses from Vermont businesspeople to include the state in this year’s grades.

This is like a game of telephone with only one player — who, even so, manages to thoroughly garble the message as it passes from mouth to ear and on to brain. Ironically, the VTGOP’s news release includes this line:

The first step in solving a problem is recognizing and accurately defining the problem itself.

Uh-huh. And by “accurately defining the problem,” the GOP apparently means “relying on two-year-old figures from an unscientific survey.” Not to mention “exaggerating the issue with overheated rhetoric.”

This whole schemozzle shows how desperate the Republicans are for messaging material, that they have to keep on hammering over and over again on a discredited talking point. It’s embarrassing.

The news release goes on to depict Vermont’s economy as in “crisis,” which it clearly is not. We have our troubles, but crisis? No — “crisis” is what George W. Bush left us with. And President Obama and Governor Shumlin have been trying to dig out from under the Bush rubble ever since.

The Republicans also assert that “Vermont Democrats denied there were any problems with Vermont’s… economy,” which is also patently untrue. I don’t think there’s a Democrat in the state who would argue that we don’t have our share of problems and issues, and the Shumlin Administration has been trying — in its own way, whether you agree with it or not — to make things better. When you consider how awful things were in 2008-09, plus the severe blow of Tropical Storm Irene in the summer of 2011, things in Vermont have gotten a whole lot better.

Republicans are already in danger of losing touch with reality, and losing credibility with undecided and centrist voters. Hysterical, over-the-top rhetoric won’t convince anyone that we’re on the cusp of apocalypse.

Speaking of doubling down, the news release concludes with a challenge for a debate on the economy between party chairs “Super Dave” Sunderland and Dottie Deans “in a neutral forum.” This bit of red-flag theatricality is completely meaningless. The Republicans hope that Deans ignores the challenge, so they can accuse her of ducking the issues.

In fact, the job of the party chair isn’t to take part in debates; that’s what candidates do. Party chairs are supposed to spend their time managing and organizing their parties. And that, in itself, is at least a job and a half.

At least it is for Deans, who leads an active, vibrant organization. Super Dave, on the other hand, has a paid staff of ONE to oversee, a sickly grassroots network, and a meager budget. Maybe he has time for pointless media events, but Deans has work to do.