Tag Archives: Emily’s List

On the VPR Poll

Must have been some soiled britches at VTGOP headquarters when the news came out: a new poll shows the race for governor is a statistical dead heat.

If it’s accurate, of course. Usual caveats apply. Doesn’t help that this is the only pre-election poll we’re going to get, since VPR is the only media organization putting up money for surveys this year.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume it’s reasonably on target.

There were reasons to believe the race would be close, but the almost universal assumption (me included) was that Phil Scott was the front-runner because of his name recognition, his inoffensive image, and Vermonters’ presumed post-Shumlin fatigue with liberal policymaking. Minter, by comparison, was known (to the extent she was known at all) mainly as a Shumlin underling, which meant she would struggle to create a profile of her own.

Instead, here we are, with Scott at 39 percent, Minter at 38, and a rather surprising 14 percent undecided.

So why is this race so close? Assuming, again, that the poll is accurate.

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How much will the RGA spend in Vermont?

Sky’s the limit, apparently.

Last week’s campaign finance filings showed that a Super PAC operated by the Republican Governors Association has already spent more than $500,000 on behalf of Phil Scott.

And there’s only one way it makes sense for them to spend that much money that early: they intend to spend a whole lot more between now and Election Day. I mean, look: they’ve put out a bunch of smiley-face mailers and TV ads in the dead zone of August, for Pete’s sake. That’s a complete waste unless it’s only the opening salvo in a concerted campaign.

I think Lenore Broughton’s record for Super PAC spending in Vermont, roughly $1 million, is doomed. At this rate, the RGA will easily top $2 million, and will almost certainly outspend the candidate himself.

Remind me again how Phil Scott is the authentic Vermonter in this race.

And when the RGA turns negative on Sue Minter, and you know they will, you’ll have to remind me again how Phil Scott hates Washington-style attack ads.

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And in the morning, the boulder’s back at the bottom of the hill

You could understand if Phil Scott and Sue Minter find themselves sympathizing with the plight of Sisyphus. Having won their respective primaries, they now face the task of refilling their nearly-empty warchests, and ASAP if you please.

The major-party nominees raised an ungodly (by Vermont standards) amount of money, and spent almost all of it just to get through their primaries.

The grim totals: Minter raised more than a million dollars — and spent all but $54,000 fending off the weaker-than-expected candidacies of Matt Dunne and Peter Galbraith.

Scott enters the general campaign with $158,000 in the bank. But he entered the primary race with $95K left over from his previous walkovers for lieutenant governor. Without that cushion, he’d be dead even with Minter in cash on hand. In terms of money raised during the current campaign, he actually trails both Minter and Dunne.

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Here comes the money

This one’s for Nick.

Yeah, the Vermont primary campaign blasted through all the old records for money spent. And now the real battle begins.

On the morning after the vote, the Republican Governors Association launched the first TV ad of the general election campaign. Shockingly, it’s pro-Phil Scott.

It may make his railings against outside money look a bit like the protestations of the painted lady under the lamppost, but at least it’s a positive ad. In fact, it’s so sticky-sweet, it ought to come with a warning: “You May Contract Diabetes While Watching This Advertisement.” Scenes of Phil’s appealingly craggy face on a summer day as he greets Real Vermonters, while a piano arpeggiates and an inviting, slightly MILFy voice extols his virtues. He will, Carol Brady assures us, “restore trust in state government, bring new jobs to Vermont, and focus on solving problems, not playing politics.”

I’m sure the next ad will include “heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons.” (Hey, I went to Sunday School*.)

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High stakes for a low-heeled job

It may be Vermont’s “bucket of warm piss,” in the unexpurgated words of John Nance Garner, but the campaign for Lieutenant Governor is going to absolutely shatter all previous records. In fact, the record will almost certainly fall before the party primaries in August.

Two years ago, Phil Scott and Dean Corren combined to spend about $433,000 on their respective campaigns. That set a new high water mark for the post. So far this year, about $400,000 has been contributed to Lite-Guv hopefuls. And for goodness’ sake, it’s only March!

Democrat Brandon Riker managed to raise $188,000 before dropping out, which tells you something right there. A newbie candidate raises almost as much by March 15 as Phil Scott did for all of 2014 — and feels compelled to withdraw in spite of his bankroll.

The remaining Democratic candidates, Kesha Ram and David Zuckerman, are closing in on the $200,000 mark combined, with no end in sight.

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Gleanings from campaign finance reports

Some very interesting stuff in today’s campaign finance filings. This is the first reporting deadline for Vermont candidates since last July, an eternity in political terms. (Perhaps the Legislature will deign to create a few more reporting periods for the next cycle?)

Reactions, in rough order of importance:

Yes, Bruce Lisman is serious about this running-for-governor thing. He has poured $454,000 of his own money into his campaign, and he raised a non-inconsequential $171,000 from other people, for a healthy total of $625,000. On the other hand, his campaign has a very high burn rate; he’s already spent $571,000. He’s been spending heavily and consistently since the early fall of last year –much of it on staff salaries, consultant firms, and the services of Capital Connections, the PR/lobby shop fronted by his spokesperson Shawn Shouldice.

Because of his high burn rate, Lisman has by far the least cash on hand of all the four major candidates for governor. Of course, he can always write himself a bunch more checks, so weep not for Bruce.

Fun fact: Lisman scored a $2,500 contribution from Wall Street TV shouter Lawrence Kudlow.

Phil Scott is doing just fine, thanks for asking. He’s raised $414,000 and spent a little more than half that. And all of that 414K came from other people — so, as expected, he’s got a lot more fundraising clout than Lisman. It must be noted that, of the four major candidates for governor, Scott has raised the smallest amount of money. But somehow I expect he can kick it into a higher gear when he needs to.

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Tomorrow’s a big day

March 15 is a crucial day for us Vermont Political Observers, capitalized and otherwise. Not only is it a potential make-or-break for Bernie Sanders, but it’s a deadline day for campaign finance reports from state candidates. And because of Vermont’s relaxed campaign finance law, it’s the first deadline since last July — an eternity in politics, especially in a campaign season that started so darn early.

We will, of course, be watching the primary returns from Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina. I expect Bernie to do better than predicted, as he almost always does; but not well enough to close the delegate gap with Hillary Clinton. The Michigan win, nice as it was, did virtually nothing to close that gap. Hillary’s won a bunch of states by one-sided margins, thanks largely to her yooooge advantage with the black electorate; in order to catch up, Bernie has to not only win a bunch of states — he has to dominate them. That would require some kind of massive unforced error by Clinton, or some kind of unexpected and decisive bad news that would hurt Clinton and help Sanders.

The statistical website FiveThirtyEight has a formula for keeping track of how candidates are faring in the hunt for delegates. It sets a delegate target for each candidate in each state. Right now, it shows Clinton beating her target by nearly a hundred delegates — not including superdelegates. Bernie’s almost a hundred below his target.

Bernie’s Michigan victory netted him a mere seven delegates. He’ll have to pick up that pace substantially and very quickly.

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Endorsement Wars: Backstage with Bernie

There was some excitement behind the scenes at Bernie Sanders’ Super Tuesday shindig. Sharp elbows, bruised feelings. In the long run, it won’t mean much; but hey, this is a blog about politics, and backstage maneuverings are part of the deal.

Both Democratic candidates for governor spoke from Bernie’s podium — a big opportunity, a very visible platform. Important for both. Well, here’s what happened beforehand according to multiple sources, some on the record and some off.

“[Sanders campaign manager] Jeff Weaver reached out to Matt and asked him to speak before Bernie,” says Matt Dunne’s campaign chief Nick Charyk. “They had a history; Jeff did fundraisng for Matt [in 2010] and endorsed him.

“It was an incredible honor. We had a busy Town Meeting Day schedule, but Matt was jetting up to Burlington when the Sanders campaign contacted us, and told us that Sue Minter had reached out, said she was now endorsing Bernie, and wanted to share the stage.”

Parenthetical: Minter had earlier said she would vote for Bernie in the primary but wasn’t formally endorsing — a rare distinction, but one she chose to make. On Tuesday, with the chance to appear with Bernie in the balance, she changed her tune.

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With friends like these, who needs EMILY’s?

The Sue Minter campaign is hoping to win the support of EMILY’s List, the high-powered PAC for liberal women. Minter recently replaced her in-state campaign manager, Sarah McCall, with Molly Ritner, an outsider reportedly handpicked by the EMILY’s folks. When asked if an EMILY’s endorsement is in the works, Ritner replied cryptically, “They are actively engaged.”

EMILY’s support would be a Big Biden Deal for Minter. It’d go a long way toward overcoming Matt Dunne’s early lead in fundraising. But while she has yet to receive EMILY’s imprimatur, she has managed to gain the support of “Maria’s List,” a Massachusetts-based EMILY’s wannabe.

Maria’s List has scheduled a fundraising event for Feb. 29 at the Boston-area home of its founder, Maria Jobin-Leeds. That’s the good news; the bad news is the invitation letter for that event may be the most ineptly-drafted piece of political mail I have ever seen. It’s full of typos, bad grammar, and factual errors. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

When asked about Maria’s List, Ritner offered this noncommittal reply by email:

As you might know, Maria’s List is an organization that supports “progressive candidates who stand by their values and who run viable campaigns.”  They have decided to support Sue in her campaign and are hosting an event on her behalf.

As for the email specifically, the content was not approved by the campaign.

Well, that’s good. Because the content is awful. The letter in full, after the jump.

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In the best possible way for the worst possible reason

If anyone doubted that there was a deep well of humanity inside the flinty-eyed vote-counter, today’s announcement removed all doubt.

House Speaker Shap Smith has left the gubernatorial race, citing his wife Melissa Volansky’s continuing battle with breast cancer. He chose family over ambition, despite Volansky herself urging him to stay in the race.

His announcement was concise, graceful, heartfelt, and noble. It speaks volumes about Shap’s character and priorities, and it makes me hope that he can return to politics someday.

For now, no. He rejected any talk of re-entering the race even if circumstances permit, and he announced he will not seek re-election to the House next year. And if this does turn out to be his last act in politics, then (a) it’s one hell of an exit, and (b) Vermont will be the poorer for it.

And now, since this is a political blog, we don the green eyeshade and consider the political impact.

To put it bluntly, Sue Minter may have just won the Democratic nomination.

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