Tag Archives: John MacGovern

Cautionary notes on the Phil Scott inevitability, part 3: Deadweight party

See also: Part 1, addressing the massive turnout difference between presidential and non-presidential years; and part 2, on the unhelpfully archconservative nature of the Republican presidential field.

Strangely, there was no media presence at last Saturday’s meeting of the Vermont Republican Party.

I say “strangely” because the VTGOP’s four officers were up for re-election. And they haven’t been all that successful; the party continues to trail the Democrats in finances, staffing, and organization, both statewide and grassroots.

I couldn’t be there because I was out of town all weekend, but I have heard some news.

To begin with, in a sign that Executive Director Jeff Bartley doesn’t have his finger on the pulse, he scheduled the meeting for the opening weekend of hunting season. That’d seem to be a no-no for The Party Of Traditional Vermont (And Guns), if not for a young urbanite like Jeff. From what I hear, they barely mustered a quorum.

On the topline, there was no drama. All four officers were re-elected. Maybe the conservatives were out baggin’ deer, or maybe they just don’t have much to offer. (Two years ago, their choice for party chair was John MacGovern, who’s best known in these parts for being an ultraconservative joke candidate against Bernie Sanders in 2012. If he was the conservative wing’s best option, then ugh.)

Here’s something you’ll be surprised to hear. Both gubernatorial candidates addressed the “crowd,” and from the whispers reaching these ears, Phil Scott was underwhelming. How underwhelming? Well, Bruce Lisman looked good by comparison. Apparently, Scott rolled out his usual bumpf, while Lisman actually offered some red meat to the faithful.

In the long run, that’s probably meaningless. Scott remains the overwhelming favorite for the nomination, but there might just be a few chinks in the favorite’s armor.

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A wild Saturday night with the Windsor County GOP

Sing it with me, boys and girls: “One of these things is not like the others…”

Feliciano, Tate, Dame, Lisman

That, my friends, is the star-studded lineup for Saturday night’s “gala dinner” hosted by the Windsor County Republicans. Well, that plus a “Soap Box” for any Republican candidate who shows up and wants to charm the crowd with some campaign bumpf.

Constant Readers will recall that Windsor County GOP Chair John MacGovern had touted the event with a list of “invited speakers” featuring a whole bunch of Republican notables: at least three presidential candidates, any and all Vermont Republican hopefuls, plus VTGOP godfather Jim Douglas.

Well, apparently most of those folks declined the invitation. Instead, we get the odd quartet pictured above: three of the most conservative politicos in the VTGOP, plus wealthy gubernatorial candidate Bruce Lisman.

And don’t forget the Soap Box!

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Two Eminently Refusable Invitations from the VTGOP Social Calendar

Oh, those Republicans. They know how to liven things up, don’t they?

Don’t they?

Maybe they don’t.

Exhibit A: An unfortunate scheduling mishap by that Master of Mishaps, Scott Milne.

Exhibit B: A “gala dinner” that promises to thoroughly underwhelm.

MeetScottMilneFirst, off, you’ve got a chance to meet 2014 gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne on Wednesday evening. Oh, pardon me, I should say Meet with SCOTT MILNE!

Which is perfectly fine, except for what else is going on Wednesday evening that might just be of greater interest to Republicans: the second Republican Presidential debate. The first one attracted some 25 million viewers; the second is likely to blow Meet with SCOTT MILNE! out of the water.

(BTW, the Vermont Young Republicans are hosting a “Debate Watch Party” at Halvorson’s Cafe in Burlington. If you’re thinking about attending, you might want to grab a bite beforehand; the eatery’s Yelp reviews are kind of dispiriting. Lots of one- and two-star reviews, with its overall rating buoyed up to three stars thanks to a handful of suspiciously enthusiastic five-star reviews.)

For our second entry, we head down I-89 to the Upper Valley, where the Windsor County Republicans will hold a “friend-raiser” on October 3 in Norwich. “Friend-raiser” not “fundraiser” because, ha ha, they want to bring in new recruits for assimilation. They will, of course, accept donations, and entry will cost you 25 bucks.

The second-saddest thing about this announcement is the fact that John MacGovern is chair of the Windsor County Republicans. This is the same MacGovern who was a complete flameout when he challenged Bernie Sanders for Senate in 2012, and who represented the party’s conservative wing in the race for party chair in 2014. (He lost to David Sunderland, who is pretty darn conservative but was Phil Scott’s choice for the gig.)

Before that, he’d spent several years heading an “organization” called the Hanover Institute, a nonprofit whose goal was to bring conservative pressure to bear against the alleged liberals who’d taken over Dartmouth College. In fact, the Institute’s sole employee was John MacGovern, and its funds basically paid his salary and expenses while he produced occasional newsletters and swanned about the country kissing conservative alumni ass.

So that’s who you’ve got leading the Republican charge in Windsor County. But the saddest thing is the event itself.

MacGovern says the “friend-raiser” will “celebrate core Republican principles” and will feature a “full-course meal” (whatever that means), cash bar, raffle, and speeches from Republican worthies.

But you’d best read the fine print.

A number of prominent Republican, conservative and libertarian speakers have been invited to attend this event, including Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Bruce Lisman, Ben Carson, and former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas.

Please note the verb “invited.” The only confirmed speaker is Dan Feliciano, the Libertarian candidate who drew a dismal 4% of the vote in the dismal 2014 gubernatorial election. He then became a Republican, and is now considering a second bid for Governor.

Somehow I don’t see the likes of Fiorina, Kasich, Lisman, Carson, and Douglas going out of their way to answer their invitations. But hey, there’ll be a “Soap Box… to all Republican candidates who show up.”

Woof. That promises a long evening of tedium.

But wait, there’s more! After MacGovern’s press release was published on VTDigger, he posted a correction: “there is no cash bar.”

Aaaarrrgh.

With friend-raisers like this, who needs enemies?