Gerald Malloy made the customary Election Eve rounds of all 14 Vermont counties today. The antepenultimate stop was in Rutland, where his visit sparked a touching memory of an early encounter that fortified him for the long road ahead.
“Dolores Luebke,” hmmm….
Would that be the Dolores Luebke who’s served as chair of the Pawlet Republican Committee? The Dolores Luebke who’s a Second Amendment absolutist? The Dolores Luebke who has repeatedly made baseless accusations of election fraud against former state representative Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, who’s now running to retake his old seat?
Yeah, if that’s the kind of “substance” Malloy possesses, allow me to fervently hope he loses by a truly embarrassing margin.
Submitted for your approval: Christopher-Aaron Felker, notorious hatemonger, astoundingly unsuccessful candidate for elective office, anti-trans agitator, multiple-time banishee from Twitter, and — lest we forget — chair of the Burlington Republican Committee.
Felker is seen here leading a tiny group — I see ten or so in this video — of people protesting at Outright Vermont’s annual fire truck pull Saturday on Church Street. (Click on the link at your own risk; it’s a two-hour video taken on a smartphone by one of Felker’s associates.)
Felker apparently heads a Vermont chapter of the LGB Alliance, an alleged gay-rights organization whose only apparent interest is stirring up anti-trans hate.
More on the Alliance in a moment. First, the question must be posed: What does the VTGOP think of its hatemongering city chair? What does Gov. Phil Scott think of this guy being a public face of his chosen party? Will he go beyond the usual expressions of dismay and work to excise this carbuncle from the ass of the VTGOP? Or is he all hat and no cattle?
It’s gotten to the point where I feel sorry for Christina Nolan, the drug-enforcin’ former U.S. Attorney turned nudge nudge, wink wink moderate Republican candidate for Pat Leahy’s Senate seat. First, whatever she was promised in terms of financial and organizational support has failed to materialize. Second, she’s going to spend the next several months sharing the stage with a bunch of far-right zealots before like-minded audiences. The crowd and the stage will doubtless include people who don’t believe that Her Kind are entitled to equal rights or, for that matter, existence.
If these events get any coverage at all, they’ll torpedo her effort to campaign as a moderate. She’ll have two choices: play to the crowd and hope not to be quoted in the press, or stick to her campaign’s message and risk getting booed off the stage.
The first stop on this Trail of Tears is on Saturday at the palatial Double Tree Hotel, the flower of South Burlington, where the VTGOP will hold a luncheon (which is what they call “lunch” when they’re trying to sell expensive tickets*) and meeting to discuss and approve the party’s dog-whistly platform, in which the concept of moderation gains no purchase.
“Trying” is the operative word here. Last week, the party was offering a $15 discount off the $55 list price for those who bought tix before this week; then, on Monday and Tuesday it offered the same deal. In fact, on both days it sent an email saying the discount was still available but would end at “midnight tonight.”
And while we’re on the subject of Republican desperation, the party is STILL selling merch from the infamous “Let’s Go Brandon” rally held last November. Paul Dame’s garage must be full of that junk.
Nolan will be forced to have the opportunity to share the stage with the likes of her little-known and veeerrrrryy conservative primary opponent Gerald Malloy and the party’s two hopeless Congressional candidates, Anya Tynio and Ericka Redic. Also sharing in the rubber chicken: the party’s two candidates for lieutenant governor, the estimable Sen. Joe Benning and the execrable Gregory Thayer, 2020 election truther and Vermont’s most ardent opponent of whatever he imagines critical race theory is.
Nolan and Benning should expect the crowd to be ideologically in sync with the True Believers on stage and skeptical (at best) of their professions of inclusive Republicanism. At least the two can commiserate about waging an uphill battle with no resources and feeling compelled to cozy up to the VTGOP’s far-right base.
After the jump: Coming Soon to a Grange Hall Near You
One of the minor intrigues around Gov. Phil Scott’s weekly press conferences is “What will Guy Page come up with next?” Page, the sole proprietor of the Vermont Daily Corpuscle (I think I got that right), usually comes out of right field with something straight out of the conservamedia talking point factory. Scott then answers it with his customary studied earnestness.
We got a priceless example yesterday. After asking a bloody-shirt question about an alleged crime wave of drug cartels robbing legal cannabis dispensaries, Page pivoted to the existential:
Governor, you’re the chief executive of an enterprise that includes the Vermont Commission on Women and other groups designed to benefit women. How would you answer the question, “What is a woman?”
The question came straight from Republicans in the U.S. Senate playing “gotcha” with Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Scott smirked, and then proceeded to fumble his answer. I’d run the full transcript here, but it’d be hazardous to your eyesight like staring directly into the sun. The “high points” of Scott’s meander were “I haven’t contemplated an answer to that,” “I just assume that [Commissioners] refer to them as, uh, as ‘her,’ ‘she,’ or ‘her,'” and “I haven’t heard any outcry from the Commission or a Commissioner or that, um, that, uh, entity.” Sheesh.
Oh, for the moral clarity of a straightforward “Gender is a complicated thing. You can’t boil it down to a single factor.”
Scott could have also turned the table on Page. Probably would have been effective, because it turns out that conservatives can’t answer the question either.
Ericka Redic, ultraconservative wannabe YouTube star, is running for office again. In fact, she’s running for two offices at once! That might pose a problem if she stood the slightest chance of winning either one.
Redic is on the Burlington city ballot as a Fourth Ward candidate for school board. She’s challenging board member Martine Laroque Gulick and, unless something truly weird happens, she’ll be nothing more than a speedbump for the incumbent. But Fourth Ward voters should know exactly what kind of choice they’re being offered. To judge from her general worldview, it’s safe to expect she’ll oppose mask mandates, beat the critical race theory drum and call for inquisitions of teachers and school librarians. Just what the voters of Burlington are looking for.
Meanwhile, Redic has filed campaign papers with the Federal Elections Commission as “Ericka Redic for Congress.”
The campaign committee is a model of streamlining. The treasurer of the organization is “Redic, Ericka L., Mrs.” T designated agent is “Redic, Ericka L., Mrs.” And the Custodian of Records is “Redic, Ericka L., Mrs.” As far as can be told, Ericka Redic for Congress is a one-person operation. Cozy!
Once again, the ocean trawler of political commentary has dredged up a boatload of dead things, old boots and trash… and now we get to display it proudly at our unofficial stall just outside the fish market.
First of all, the What On Earth Did You Think This Would Actually Accomplish? Award goes to everybody associated with the candidacy of Christopher-Aaron Felker for Burlington City Council, from Felker himself to the entire Burlington Republican Committee to our old bicoastal buddy Bradford Broyles, who took a break from developing D-List TV and movie ideas to sign on as Felker’s campaign manager.
Setting aside Felker’s horrifically offensive stance on transgender folk (i.e. that they don’t exist), let’s focus on the practicality of this enterprise. Felker, who looks for all the world like a character from an Ayn Rand novel, is a libertarian-type conservative with views that would make Steve Bannon blush — and he’s running for council in Ward 3, which has been a Progressive stronghold for four decades. How on Earth does he think this is going to end?
Maybe he’s doing it because it’s a great way to be a real-life concern troll. Maybe the party was so happy that someone — anyone — stepped forward that they didn’t do their due diligence. (Or maybe they share Felker’s views.) As for Broyles, I have no idea why he’s bothering with this. I’m sure he’ll inform me and his 324 followers via Twitter. Anyway, congrats, Brad. I’m sure you’ll find a prominent place to display your Veepie amongst all your Oscars and Emmys.
After the jump: Media misdeeds and covering the blue ass.
There is so much to say about the pair of dueling events that took place in Essex last Friday. The first was a cauldron of conservative outrage concerning Their Latest Bugaboo, critical race theory, about which they know nothing. The second was a counter-event across the road, featuring supporters of the school district’s anti-racism efforts.
There’s what it says about the Vermont Republican Party that its chair attended Hate Night. There’s the ideological connection to recent events in the Mill River school district, where conservative outrage has also reared its unsightly head. There’s how the event was covered: Badly by VTDigger, and with manufactured both-sidesism by Seven Days. There’s the complete unmasking of a prominent conservative “journalist,” and the rise of a new contender for Worst Lawmaker in Montpelier.
But let’s start with Hebrews 11:1. In the King James Version favored by many evangelicals, it says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This verse has multiple applications here.
One of the features/bugs of Gov. Phil Scott’s twice-weekly Covid-19 briefings is that a lot of reporters beyond The Usual Suspects get to participate. Sometimes this is a good thing; scribes from Vermont’s many local weeklies often ask solid questions.
And then there’s Steve Merrill aka “Steve from the Kingdom” and Guy Page, two hard-core right-wingers known for asking irrelevant questions that go nowhere.
Well, today they outdid themselves. Page brought a QAnon-inspired question to the party, and Merrill tried to provoke an argument with Scott. (Page and Merrill appeared back-to-back near the end of the briefing; Page begins around the 1 hour, 46 minute mark of the video, viewable at the above link.)
For those unfamiliar with the weedier patches of the Vermont media ecosystem, Page is a longtime fixture around the Statehouse and a genuinely nice guy. He used to lobby for nuclear power; now he’s kind of a one-man band of right-wing partisan journalism. He operates a couple of websites and, during legislative sessions, he produces an occasional newsletter.
Merrill is the volunteer host of a little-known and seldom-viewed talk show on NEK-TV, the Kingdom’s community access service. Which is enough to get them on the briefing list.
What follows is their “contribution” to today’s briefing.
Hey folks, pesky fly buzzing about. Time to get out the ol’ elephant gun.
Last week, Vermont’s own conservative writer, lobbyist and Trump apologist Guy Page took to the interwebs to downplay the significance of Our Felonious President’s dealings with Ukraine by making a completely baseless comparison to the actions of St. Patrick Leahy.
As Page would have it, while Trump exerted pressure on Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s dealings in that country*, Leahy also engaged in pressure tactics against that selfsame nation. In May 2018, Leahy and two fellow Senate Democrats sent a letter to the then-senior prosecutor of Ukraine expressing “great concern” that the prosecutor was impeding the Robert Mueller investigation, and urging him to cooperate. The Senators noted that they had been “strong advocates for a robust and close relationship with Ukraine.” Without saying so, they implied that their advocacy could be subject to change.
*Nice of Page to acknowledge Trump’s pressure tactics. Although he characterizes it as “Trump’s pursuit of justice,” ahem.
Aha! See? A classic case of “both sides do it.”
Ehh, not so fast, buddy boy. Trump and Leahy both communicated justice-related concerns with Ukrainian officials, to be sure. But that’s where the similarities end.
Last week, Randy Brock kinda re-introduced his bid for lieutenant governor at the same news conferece where a bunch of Republicans threw their lot in with Marco Rubio, the presidential candidate last seen telling dick jokes about Donald Trump.
Brock made headlines by claiming he knows how to boost state tax revenue by $100 million, and I’ll be writing more about that in the near future. But he also showcased his campaign team. And the media coverage was notable for what it didn’t say.
VTDigger identified campaign manager Brad Ferland in passing, without specifying his credentials. The Vermont Press Bureau named Ferland* (listing his day job as deputy commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Management) and two others: Brent Burns, credentials unspecified; and Guy Page, identified as “field director for VT Watchdog.”
*UPDATE: The VPB was in error. There are two Brad Ferlands. The one who works for the state is not connected with the Brock campaign in any way.
The latter is interesting enough; VT Watchdog is the Green Mountain outpost of the national Watchdog network, which is funded by far-right wealthy donors in the Koch brothers orbit.
But what’s even more interesting about Page and Ferland is what wasn’t reported: both are on the payroll of the Vermont Energy Partnership. For those unfamiliar, this bland-sounding organization is basically a sounding board for corporate energy interests in Vermont. As Green Mountain Daily put it:
The Vermont Energy Partnership was founded by [some] of the most powerful corporations, few from Windham County, including IBM, Casella Waste Management, and Pizzagalli Construction, plus business associations like the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. And, of course, Entergy.