Tag Archives: Mark Donka

Mr. Donka’s regrettable Facebook page

I sure hope the Vermont Republican Party can recruit a credible candidate to run against Congressman Peter Welch in 2016. Because if they leave the spot open for the likes of Mark Donka like they did in 2012 and 2014, they might suffer a wee bit of embarrassment. Because even as Phil Scott has been busily distancing himself from the far-right extremism of the Republican presidential field, the same sort of harsh rhetoric can be found in abundance on Donka’s Facebook page.

Which is basically a bunch of reposted Tea Party visuals full of conspiracy thinking, climate change denial, fear and hatred.

Some of which are also, um, fake.

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Yeah, Mark? That never happened.

A photograph of Hillary Clinton shaking hands with terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden has circulated online (divorced from its original context) ever since it was created for a Photoshop contest held back in 2007 by the web site FreakingNews.com.


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A brief moment of excitement for Vermont conservatives

Twitter was all-aflutter on Friday evening with news of a new Associated Press poll showing Republican Teahadist Mark Donka within five percentage points of incumbent Congressman Peter Welch. The apparent shocker quickly rattled around the dank corridors of #tvcot:

Er, sorry to piss on your bonfire, but that’s not a poll. Those are test election results, routinely circulated by the Associated Press before elections to make sure its systems are working. Apparently the results were posted online by the Daily Mail, a British newspaper, presumably by mistake.

I know about test results because in a past life I worked a lot of election seasons as a reporter. Back when there were teletype machines, they would spit out reams and reams of these test results in the days before an election.

I can tell by the formatting. The actual webpage has a huge long list of “returns,” but here’s the segment about Vermont’s congressional race.

275 of 275 precincts – 100 percent
x-Peter Welch, Dem (i) 98,083 – 44 percent
Mark Donka, GOP 87,107 – 39 percent
Matthew Andrews, LUn 2,778 – 1 percent
Cris Ericson, Ind 14,800 – 7 percent
Randall Meyer, Ind 2,799 – 1 percent
Jerry Trudell, Ind 16,643 – 7 percent

See, your tipoff is the first line, saying “275 of 275 precincts — 100 percent.” Election returns always show how many precincts have reported, and what percentage of the total have reported so far. There’s also the “x” in front of Welch’s name, indicating the winner. Any experienced reporter would tell you, that’s the standard AP election return format.

Poll results just don’t look like that.

Also, Cris Ericson and Jerry Trudell getting 7 percent apiece? Snort.

Also also, the Associated Press doesn’t do polls. And it certainly hasn’t done anything as intensive as polling every single Congressional district in the country, which is what our conservative Tweeters think this is.

A word to the #tvcot community: stop making fools of yourselves.

Failure to detonate

Well, the “money bombs” have come and gone for two Vermont conservatives… and both, apparently, fizzled out.

Gubernatorial hopeful Dan the Libertarian Man, whose fundraising has fallen far short of his perceived appeal, put out a Tweet on Wednesday calling for $100,000 “in the next 48 hours.” He also posted the plea on his campaign website. Which was, shall we charitably say, “optimistic” for a campaign that had only managed to raise about $17,000 to date. (I sense the Hack’s fine Italian hand behind this maneuver.)

I guess Feliciano thought better of it, though, because after a couple more Tweets (“We don’t have much time”) he withdrew from the Twitterverse and has yet to update his webpage or otherwise unveil his total haul.

Profiles in Courage, Dan?

Speaking of courage, at least the other guy owned up to his failure. Mark Donka, candidate for Congress, had sought $25,000 in the 24 hours of Friday, October 3. He posted it on his website, his Facebook page, and on Twitter, and he ran updates on Facebook.

He fell way short, of course. According to the last update on his FB page, he took in about $3,000. But at least he had the stones to see it through, and acknowledge the outcome:

Yeah, I know, “money bob.” But I’m not even going to make fun of his typo. Not when one of his “supporters” bailed on him with this sad little FB post:

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That’s just pathetic. Look, Mr. Baker, no matter how rapacious you think “Governor Pinnocio” (sic) may be, he’s not stealing your wallet, confiscating your bank account, and rummaging through your sofa cushions. And let’s just leave alone the gratuitous, proto-racist “Dumbo” reference. (Big ears, African, hahaha.)

I’ll believe that you can’t spare $20 for your man “Marc” if you can show me that you’re living on peanut butter and Spaghetti-O’s and you canceled your cable to pay the rent. Otherwise, you’re a paper patriot.

And so are the thousands of other people who plan to vote for Mark Donka, but couldn’t part with a measly Jackson on his behalf. Look, I disagree with Donka on just about every issue, but at least he has the guts to get out there and fight. He’s taken on a hopeless job — challenging Peter Welch in liberal old Vermont — not once, but twice. He deserves credit for that. And he deserves better from his ideological compadres, who believe this country is going to Hell in a handbasket but can’t rouse themselves to do anything about it beyond watching Fox News and posting illiterate Facebook messages.

And one more thing: If Dan Feliciano comes out of the woodwork and posts a total for his $100,000 money blitz, I’ll be glad to report it in this space.

Shootout at Stooge Creek

The suspense is killin’ me. I wake up on the day after primary day to find that only 87% of the votes have been counted (some of those hardworkin’ town clerks went home a tad early), and the contest that somehow combined competitiveness with pointlessness is still undecided.

Er, that would be the Republican primary for Congress, the winner receiving an all-expenses-unpaid trip to Planet Smackdown courtesy of incumbent Democrat Peter Welch. The race featured three Tea Party types — two unknowns, plus the guy who got trounced by Welch last time around. In cinematic terms, this contest was Shootout at Stooge Creek. Except there ain’t a Moe, Larry, or Curly in the bunch. Not even a Shemp. These guys are all Curly Joes.

(For non-Stooge fans, let’s just say that’s not a good thing.)

Somehow, the guy with all that 2012 holdover name recognition — Mark Donka — is in a tight battle with Don Russell, little-known gun-rights activist with an awful campaign website straight out of the bad old Angelfire days. The third Stooge, Donald Nolte, is still alive but just barely. As of this writing, Donka has 3,831 votes, Russell 3,737, and Nolte 3,422. In percentages, that’s 32.98% Donka, 32.17 Russell, and 29.46 Nolte.

I’m frankly baffled by the results. Donka should have had the edge, simply because he was the Republican candidate in 2012. It’s looking like he’ll snag the nom again this year, but only by the skin of his teeth.

My sense is that Republican primary voters entered the booth, were faced with three unfamiliar names, and played a little game of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock with themselves. Thus, the apparently random distribution of the votes.

Makes for a tiny bit of post-primary suspense. But in the end, it don’t mean a thing, ‘cuz Peter Welch got that swing.


VPR gives Peter Welch a big fat sloppy wet kiss

Well, that’s four and a half minutes of my life I’ll never get back again.

This morning, VPR’s Bob Kinzel delivered himself of a lengthy (by modern public radio standards) piece devoted to a subject that was already in the realm of clear, obvious, unquestioned fact: Congressman Peter Welch likes to work cooperatively with people from both parties.

Everybody knows that. It’s an occasional source of irritation to Vermont liberals, who’d like to see a bit more fire and brimstone from the guy. So why did we need a news story exploring a settled question?

The host’s intro to the piece was all you needed to hear:

Congressman Peter Welch has one of the most liberal voting records in Washington. At the same time, he’s one of the few Democrats to work closely with some of the most conservative Republicans in the House. VPR’s Bob Kinzel has the story.

What followed was four minutes and thirty-eight seconds that added nothing to the above statement. It was one person after another complimenting Welch on his bipartisan spirit and willingness to work with even the most conservative tea-party nutbars in the Republican caucus.

This piece took a great deal of effort on Kinzel’s part. He got quotes from former Governor Jim Douglas, two very conservative Republican members of Congress, and a Congressional correspondent for the beltway publication Roll Call, plus some file tape of Welch at a committee hearing. You don’t often hear that many different people in a single public radio piece.

And for what? To re-establish a universally known fact?

Who came up with this story idea anyway? And how did it get through VPR’s notoriously painstaking editorial process? There was no “news hook” — no current event that shines a spotlight on Welch’s collaborative proclivities.

Plus, it seems inappropriate to send an unvarnished love letter to a person who’s currently running for re-election, for God’s sake. If I were Mark Donka, I’d be complaining vociferously to VPR for broadcasting what amounted to a lengthy advertisement for Peter Welch’s political virtue.

But most of all, it was a complete waste of time for a skilled reporter, VPR editors, and me, the listener.

Mark Donka steps very close to the edge

Random thoughts on a Monday afternoon in July, the weather is warm, the sun high in the sky… and some people’s thoughts turn apocalyptic.


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That cheery idea comes from the brain of the likely Republican nominee for Congress in Vermont. Mark Donka faces two equally rabid conservatives in the GOP primary, but he should have a name-recognition edge from his disastrous 2012 bid to unseat Democrat Peter Welch.  I assume he will win the nomination.

To be fair to Mr. Donka, I really don’t take this Tweet as an authentic wish for a catastrophic attack on America — although he clearly opens the door to such an interpretation. But even if you give him the benefit of the doubt, this is so wrong in so many ways. (For starters, let’s run it by the families of 9/11 victims.) I wouldn’t want anyone who thinks like this anywhere near a position of authority. And of course, he knows deep down that he’s never going to be a Congressman, so he’s free to spout whatever hurtful nonsense he likes.

But let’s leave aside the moral dimensions of this offensive remark, and focus for a moment on the practical.

Did 9/11″light the fuse of change”?  Well, I guess you could say it did. It ushered in the Bush Administration’s two disastrous wars, the building of a huge security apparatus and the exercise of broad new government powers, and the explosion of federal deficits (as Bush chose to cut taxes even while prosecuting two wars).

But considering that Mark Donka describes himself as a limited-government conservative who wants to rein in federal authority, cut spending, and pay off the debt, it’s interesting that he should believe that another 9/11 would promote his kind of change, instead of the precise opposite.

Mark Donka: dangerously wrong. And, assuming victory in the primary, one of the top names on the Vermont Republican ticket. Be proud, VTGOP.