On May 20, VTDigger’s Lola Duffort graced our #vtpoli feeds with an “it’d be funny if it wasn’t true” story about Christina Nolan’s campaign team. Or lack thereof.
Nolan’s campaign doesn’t list a contact person. It hasn’t identified any staffers. It communicates with the media through an anonymous email account with no phone number. The only name officially on board the Nolan Doomcruiser is former governor Jim Douglas, who’s serving as “campaign chair.” Otherwise, nada.
A perusal of her latest campaign finance filing shows no trace of paid staff. Lots of big checks for consultancies, including $16,000 to political sea lamprey Jay Shepard, but no actual campaign team. Which is sad, really, for someone hoping to compete with U.S. Rep. Peter Welch’s near-universal name recognition and nearly bottomless war chest.
But when you take a look at Nolan’s tone-deaf Twitter feed, the explanation is obvious: Nobody wants to take “credit” for this catastrophe-in-the-making.
Well, well. On Monday afternoon, we learned that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Christina Nolan would hold an all-star D.C. fundraiser Tuesday night featuring… uh… Mitch McConnell, Bill Barr, and a bunch of other Republicans.
This ought to stick to Nolan like hot tar for the duration of her bid to succeed Patrick Leahy. Nolan, that alleged moderate Republican, is jetting off to our nation’s capital so Mitch Fucking McConnell can raise money for her campaign.
McConnell is the man most responsible for this Supreme Court decision. He is responsible for shackling women to their rapists or abusers and forcing them to choose between giving birth or seeking illegal and likely dangerous off–the-books abortions. He is the man who stole two Supreme Court seats and paved the way for this revolting development.
For those just joining us, McConnell blocked action on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for almost a full year, leaving the seat open for Brett “I Like Beer” Kavanaugh — and then frogmarched Amy Coney Barrett to confirmation in record time before the 2020 election could take that power away from him.
And Nolan is going to take his money, come back to Vermont, and pretend that nothing is wrong? No fucking way.
(Apologies for readers with tender sensibilities, but there are times when nothing but bad language will suffice. This is one of those times. We’re just getting started.)
Christina Nolan’s longshot bid for U.S. Senate got quite a bit longer last week, with the filing of first-quarter campaign finance reports. For starters, as expected, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch did what he’s always done — fundraise the hell out of his opposition. He pulled in $839,000 and spent roughly half of that, bringing his total warchest to a daunting $2.96 million.
Nolan? She received $157,000 in donations and spent about one-third of that, leaving her a smidge over $100K in cash on hand.
Thirteen of Nolan’s donors gave the maximum $2,900 for the primary campaign. Eight of those 13 also gave an additional $2,900, which must be reserved for the general election. That adds up to $37,700. One other person gave $5,000, of which $2,100 must be spent on the general. So her effective cash on hand — money she can spend between now and August 11 — is only $61,747. Which means that right now, today, Welch’s kitty is effectively an astounding forty-eight times as large as Nolan’s.
Ouch. Double ouch with nuts. I was going to make a David v. Goliath reference, but this is more like Bambi v. Godzilla. If this race wasn’t done and dusted already (hint: it was), these filings remove any remaining whispers of doubt.
Earlier this week, after Liz Cheney was purged by the House’s minority caucus, Gov. Phil Scott was asked about the sorry state of the national GOP. His response, per WCAX: “It appears as there’s a sign that is being placed in the window saying you need not apply and if you don’t adhere to those values or that litmus test, you are no longer welcome.”
A natural follow-up, which went unasked, would have been “In that case, what about the Vermont Republican Party, whose leadership is as intolerant as the national crowd?”
Take, for example, Jay Shepard, Republican National Committeeman and generic Mike Pompeo knock-off. He is one of two VTGOP representatives to the national Republican Committee, which makes him a very big fish in the shallow pool of our conservative politics.
Shepard styles himself a genius of inside politics. He runs Junction Consulting, a conservative firm offering its expertise in campaigns, fundraising and so forth. During the 2018 election cycle, his firm got nearly $200,000 from the Republican State Leadership Council to run ads against select Vermont Democratic lawmakers. Hmm, a Republican committee funneling funds to a Republican committeeman. Sounds a little grifty to me.
Well, Shepard’s got himself a new grift. He’s using the VTGOP email list to pump a national group that he co-founded. So, if you signed up for information about what Vermont Republicans are up to, congratulations. You’re getting Shepard’s fundraising pleas for the group, plus a regular email newsletter from its rhetorician-in-chief.
I mean, who could pass up a trip to D.C. on a bus full of Trump fanatics, who will presumably not be complying with Covid-19 recommendations on mask wearing and social distancing? Just think: You could have the chance to get Jay Shepard’s spittle on your shirt!
(That’s probably not true. If Shepard is going to D.C., he won’t ride a bus with the plebes. He’ll fly.)
Nice to know that the Chittenden County Republicans are supporting the #TreasonForTrump excursion. They’re right in step with the politics of their county, yes?
The grim details of this Road Trip To Hell And Back: The bus departs Tuesday evening from South Burlington, makes a stop in Rutland, and then heads south on a 10-hour, all-night-long bus trip to Washington, D.C. Travelers are urged to “bring a blanket and pillow” so they can get a good night’s sleep on a freaking bus. They’ll arrive in Washington early Wednesday morning, participate in futile pro-Trump rallies outside the Capitol, and then it’s back on the bus for another 10-hour all-nighter.
A few interesting things came out of the Vermont Republican Convention on Saturday — besides revealing that Phil Scott can’t take a rhetorical punch.
I thought it shone a harsh and unforgiving light on the idea that Vermont Republicans are a breed apart — the last surviving redoubt of moderate Republicanism. That’s largely a fiction created in a desperate effort to appeal to the liberal Vermont electorate. It takes on the veneer of reality thanks to the thoroughly moderate image of Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. But the party ranks are full of garden-variety 21st Century Republicanism. Vermont Republicans may have thrown in the towel on social issues like marriage equality and abortion rights*, but they are a stoutly conservative bunch when it comes to brass-tacks issues like government spending, regulation, and taxation.
*Well, let’s say they are withholding the towel. I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts they’d change their tune if they ever achieved political power.
After all, this is a party that eagerly embraced John Kasich, a man whose tax plan would make Ronald Reagan blush with embarrassment. George W. Bush, too, for that matter.
But there were signs aplenty at the Convention that this is a party with a strongly conservative core.
My previous post called on Lt. Gov. Phil Scott to show some leadership on the issue of Planned Parenthood, and noted that neither he nor the VTGOP had responded to my Tweet inquiring about their stance. Well, I missed something.
Unfortunately, it’s not good.
Jay Shepard is one of Vermont’s two members of the Republican National Committee. (The other, Susie Hudson, is known in these parts for drawing paychecks from the VTGOP as a “fundraising consultant” while the party’s fundraising continues to suck, and also for accepting a free trip to the Holy Land chaperoned by leaders of the American Family Association, the notoriously anti-gay, anti-choice ultraconservative Christian organization.) He is, in short, one of Vermont’s two representatives to the national party.
And he revealed his position on Planned Parenthood in an August Facebook post:
Well, hooray for leadership. Too bad it’s the wrong kind. Wrong for Vermont, certainly.
I’ll also mention a comment Shepard made in January to the Wall Street Journal, concerning then-fringe candidate Ben Carson. Yes, the guy who doesn’t believe a Muslim should be President.
“I think he was fantastic. A breath of fresh air,” said Jay Shepard, GOP national committeeman from Vermont.
Now, I realize that Phil Scott isn’t directly responsible for the views of his fellow Vermont Republican. But this guy holds one of the most important, influential posts in the VTGOP. And the other RNC representative thinks it’s perfectly okay to travel on a hate group’s dime. If these are the two people chosen to represent Vermont on the national stage, then tell me again: exactly how is the VTGOP different than the national version?
Welp, another month, another Federal Election Commission filing deadline — and another dismal financial report from Your Vermont Republican Party. Its August report is now available online. So let’s sift through the debris…
The Vermont Republican Federal Elections Committee* began August with $28,069 in the bank. During the month, Total Receipts were a paltry $4,341. Expenditures were $15,299, so the party was hemorrhaging money.
*Although the VTGOP is a state party, federal law classifies the bulk of its activities as “federal.” So the FEC reports are the best indicator of the party’s finances.
But wait, it’s worse than that!
The party transferred $3800 from a non-federal account. Actual donations for August totaled $541.00.
Five hundred forty-one dollars. For an entire month.