The primary campaign was a rough one for the Vermont Republican Party. While the Democrats had enough good candidates to populate several robust primary contests, the Republicans offered the usual collection of unknowns, kooks and zealots in such low numbers that H. Brooke Paige reprised his ever-popular “run for a bunch of offices” ploy just to prevent Democrats from winning Republican nominations via handfuls of write-in votes.
Well, primary day has come and gone, and somehow things have gotten even worse for the VTGOP. First, we have the usual aftermath of the Paige maneuver: As he has done before, he withdrew from all but one race to allow the party to choose replacement candidates. Second, we have a Republican Congressional nominee who’s treating the nomination like it’s dogshit on the bottom of his shoe.
Back to the Paige situation. The VTGOP now has to scramble to find people willing to fill out the ticket even if they have no chance of winning and will barely even try. These are people who didn’t want to run in the first place. They’ll get a terribly late start on what will surely be underfunded, low-wattage efforts that might bear the slightest of resemblances to real, functional campaigns.
This has become SOP for the VTGOP, but it should be seen as the disgrace that it is. In a system with only two parties competing statewide, this Republican failure is not only bad for the party, it’s bad for democracy.
In addition to that, we have the embarrassment of a top-ticket nominee who wants nothing to do with the VTGOP.
“… when [the natives] have been condemned to eat nothing but vegetable food for several weeks, [they] have a positive craving for meat, and will do anything to procure it.
“This craving after animal food sometimes becomes almost a disease. It is known by the name of Gouamba, and attacks both white and black men alike. …Those who suffer from it become positive wild beasts at the sight of meat, which they devour with an eagerness that is horrible to witness.”
(From John George Wood, Natural History of Man, 1874)
This particular brand of madness came to my attention in the writings of the great A.J. Liebling, who diagnosed a case of Gouamba in the overwrought media coverage of a 1946 meat shortage blamed on postwar price controls.
Alas, a virulent strain of the Gouamba has overtaken Republicans nationwide and here in Vermont. Their hunger is not for steak, but for scandal in our electoral system. During the campaign, there were frequent press releases from the Vermont Republican Party alleging some kind of skulduggery and/or fecklessness by the office of Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos, none of which had the slightest hint of merit.
This week, the Gouamba-besotted VTGOP Executive Director Jeff Bartley made a spectacle of himself at the site of an election recount. Indeed, according to VTDigger’s Jasper Craven, Young Jeff was so obnoxious that he was forcibly ejected from the premises.
Elsewhere, noted Gouamba-carrier Vermont Watchdog has yet another evidence-free “story” about security flaws in Vermont’s absentee balloting system. More in a moment, but first let us return to Mr. Bartley.
Any day now, I expect Phil Scott to disavow the dishonest campaign tactics of his own Vermont Republican ParBWAHAHAHAHAHA Sorry, I thought I could get through that with a straight face.
At issue is VTGOP Executive Director Jeff Bartley’s continuing attacks on Sue Minter’s allegedly tax-happy ways. Problem: to make his case, he has to resort to fearmongering, gross exaggeration, and outright falsehood. So yeah, if Phil Scott were serious about negative campaigning, he’d clean up his own house first.
But I’m not holding my breah.
Bartley presents a two-fer in his latest press release, attacking Minter incorrectly for supporting a Vermont carbon tax (she doesn’t) and for pondering an expansion of the sales tax to include services (she’s considering it). The argument is taken further in this Tweet from @VTGOP.
:UPDATE: I got a crucial bit of information wrong in this post: the mileage for a roundtrip from Burlington to Bennington is twice what I stated below. My point is still valid, however. Please see my next post for the rest of the story.
Vermont Republicans continue to yammer endlessly about an item that wasn’t on the Legislature’s agenda this year and won’t be anytime soon: the notorious, job-killing and family-devastating carbon tax.
(Cue theremin: woooooooo-OOOOOOOO-oooooo)
This, despite the inconvenient fact that none of the Democrats running for governor or lieutenant governor actually supports the thing. (David Zuckerman does, but he’s a Prog flying a flag of convenience.)
But as outlandish as their attacks have been until now, the Republicans have outdone themselves in less than 140 characters. Behold the Tweet From Hell!
“We must battle climate change and continue down the path to 90% renewable energy by 2015. …But we must do this in a Vermont way.
… “Large-scale ridgeline wind projects should only take place with the approval of the towns where the projects are located.
… “Vermont’s renewable energy future is largely in solar and small-scale hydro.”
In short, Matt Dunne has executed a last-minute flip-flop on one of the key issues in Vermont politics. And that’s why a well-connected liberal insider told me today that “No one will ever trust him again.”
Don’t ever accuse the VTGOP of not being generous. They’ve apparently gifted Auditor Doug Hoffer with a new toy to play with a “serious” challenger for his post. I haven’t seen a news release or anything; all I’ve seen is this Tweet from VTGOP Executive Director Jeff Bartley.
Ever since Brian Dubie lost his race for governor in 2010, the Vermont Republican Party has lagged badly in political finance. With the exception of Phil Scott’s budget-friendly runs for lieutenant governor, Republican candidates for top offices (when they exist at all) have been at a tremendous disadvantage financially.
Well, 2016 is a new cycle and the Republicans have their Great White Hope running for governor, but one thing remains the same: the Democrats still have the money.
Just look at the campaign finance filings for governor. Setting aside Bruce Lisman’s generosity to himself, the two Republican candidates lag far behind their Democratic counterparts. Yes, even Phil Scott.
Matt Dunne and Sue Minter have combined to raise an astounding $1,055,026.
Phil Scott and Bruce Lisman (minus the latter’s donations to himself): $593,188.
I realize that Lisman’s own cash will buy just as many consultants and pre-processed Tweets as contributed funds. The point is, Vermont Republicans cannot match the Democrats in fundraising prowess. Not even Phil Scott.
Hey, remember when Donald Trump held a rally at the Flynn Center? And the Vermont Republican Party took pains to distance itself?
Just to refresh your memory, here’s the statement released before the Trump event by VTGOP Executive Directory Jeff Bartley:
We learned late today through media reports that Donald Trump will be making a brief campaign stop in Vermont The Vermont Republican Party did not invite Mr. Trump and has no role in his event. Like all presidential candidates, he is welcome to share his thoughts with Vermonters. We hope all candidates will articulate, in a responsible and respectful Vermont way, their ideas for helping to make our state and or nation more affordable and prosperous for working class families. And we look forward to the outcome of the primary campaign between our very diverse group of candidates.
I thought it’d be timely to revisit those words, now that The Donald shattered his “glass ceiling” in Nevada with 46 percent of the caucus vote. With each passing day, he looks more and more like the irresistible force, while the other candidates are decidedly movable objects.
Meanwhile, the obvious choice of Vermont Republicans, John Kasich, “won” 3.6 percent of the Nevada vote. Even before the results came in, he was the subject of a juicy headline Monday morning at Politico:
GOP to Kasich: Get out
A string of elected officials, GOP insiders and prominent donors officially threw their support behind Rubio on Monday, calling him their last chance to take down Donald Trump. Their statements had another common theme. Some explicitly called for Kasich to quit, while others sent the same message by saying the Ohio governor’s ongoing presence is holding Rubio back.
The story is especially poignant in these circles, since it came only two days after Vermont Republicans couldn’t stop grinning while they shared a stage with Kasich.
Hey, remember when Vermont was ranked third in the nation by Politico magazine as a place to live?
Well, here comes the flip side, courtesy of none other than the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that overflowing cascade of Kochian “economic liberty” bushwa. It ranks Vermont #49 in “economic outlook,” which is a very interesting way to put it. Because what they are ranking is not actual, tangible economic health — it’s how the state is poised for intangible future prosperity. And it is measured in terms of taxation and regulation.
But wait, it gets better. The lead author of the ALEC report is none other than Arthur Laffer. Yep, the guy behind the Laffer Curve, the absolutely unproven bit of dogma that claims you’ll create more revenue by cutting taxes, because the tax cuts will stimulate a cornucopia of prosperity.
Well, not only is it absolutely unproven; when it’s been tried in the real world, the results have been dismal. The Laffer Curve isn’t a coherent, evidence-based economic practice; it’s the money shot in a right-wing porn flick.
In case you think I’m overstating my case, let’s look at a state deemed praiseworthy by ALEC.
Donald Trump is comin’ to town. Next Thursday, Flynn Center, free tix already gone. (According to one commenter on the Freeploid website, many a liberal signed up for tickets with no intention whatsoever of actually showing up — hoping for an embarrassingly low turnout. Which would be great, but I’m sure there will be plenty of the Great Unwashed on hand to welcome their reality-show wet dream of a candidate.)
Can’t say I’m outraged or particularly concerned. I found it amusing that the Vermont Republican Party immediately sought to distance itself from the proceedings. Executive Director Jeff Bartley doing his best Sergeant Schultz:
We learned late today through media reports that Donald Trump will be making a brief campaign stop in Vermont The Vermont Republican Party did not invite Mr. Trump and has no role in his event.
Although Bartley did everything short of dunking himself in Purell, he did end his brief statement with a note of praise for the GOP’s “very diverse group of candidates.”
And there’s the rub. Trump is the loudest and most effective carnival barker of the bunch, but the Republican field really doesn’t offer much to the serious voter. Certainly no real diversity in thought or policy.