Tag Archives: Pat McDonald

The Republicans have sharpened their elbows

It’s been a tough few years for legislative Republicans. They’re a perpetual minority with little influence. Push comes to shove, about all they can do is call a press conference and let Don Turner bemoan the latest actions of the Democratic majority.

This year, things are looking a little different. Well, they’re still in a minority, but they seem to have gotten a little bit feisty — looking for opportunities to throw their weight around. I’m guessing it as something to do with Phil Scott’s candidacy for governor:

— It’s their best prospect for retaking the corner office since 2010*, which has to boost their morale, and

— The more trouble they cause, the better it is for Scott. (Who, as the Nice Guy in the room, would never ever stoop to chicanery, no sir. Ahem. See below.)

*Yes, Scott Milne almost won in 2014, but nobody thought he stood a chance. He wasn’t considered a prospect until election night. Until then, he was actually a drag on Republicans’ view of their chances.

We’re still early in the session, and we’ve seen two very high-profile spots where Republican lawmakers went out of their way to throw a wrench in the works.

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Bring me the head of Anthony Pollina

We received a pair of campaign mailers the other day. (One for each Household Voter.)

Which isn’t at all unusual; it’s rush season for political postage, which gives the USPS a nice little bump in bulk mail. But there was an unusual twist to this one. See if you can spot it:

EPSON MFP image

If you didn’t know the players, you’d think this was a standard piece of party-line bumpf. But it’s not.

This mailer, for the three-seat Washington County State Senate district, endorses two Republicans and one Democrat. Ann Cummings is a Democratic incumbent; Bill Doyle, Our Eternal Senator, is a Republican incumbent; Pat McDonald is a Republican challenger.

Who’s missing? Why, none other than Prog/Dem incumbent Anthony Pollina.

The mailer wasn’t sent by any political party, but by four separate business groups working together: the Campaign Research Center (a.k.a. VT Chamber PAC), the Vermont Ski Areas Association, the Association of General Contractors PAC, and Vermont Realtors PAC. Four groups not known for prioritizing Environmental Protection.

You’d expect these guys to promote Republicans, wouldn’t you? Why no love for Republican Dexter Lefavour? Aside from, y’know, the fact that he’s nothing more than slot-filler.

And why Ann Cummings?

A couple ideas present themselves.

— Tony Pollina is the most liberal of the incumbents, and the most vulnerable — having finished in third place in each of the last two elections. Mind you, there was plenty of room between Pollina and the next Republican finisher each time. But McDonald has a high profile and plenty of connections, and the VTGOP has high hopes for her.

I think they’re wrong, but that’s how they see it.

— Ann Cummings is a liberal Democrat, but (a) she’s a longtime incumbent and a strong vote-getter, and (b) well, she’s a Realtor.

I don’t think her profession was the deciding factor in this cunning plan. More likely, it’s a tactical maneuver to try to isolate Pollina as the weakest link. And by listing a popular, established Democratic incumbent plus the immovable Bill Doyle, they might just trick a few liberals into thinking that McDonald is on their “team.”

It’s clever. Kinda squicky, but clever.

One more thing. Do you suppose the Realtors checked with Realtor Cummings before sending this mailer? If not, it seems discourteous to me. If so, and Cummings approved it, then she ought to explain herself to her fellow Dems.

The saddest political advertisement I’ve seen in a very long time

No, it didn’t come from Scott Milne’s campaign. Nor Hempily Peyton’s.

No, it came from a Democrat. And a Democrat with a strong track record who happens to represent my county.

Without further ado, here is the saddest political ad I’ve seen in maybe forever.

Ann Cummings print ad

Ecccch.

The quality’s a bit degraded because it appeared in a local free newspaper. But still: this is the best Ann Cummings could do? Cheesy, slipshod graphics? A grim, dark, uninviting photo? Lots of wasted space?

This is bad, very bad.

I hope it’s not an indication of the Cummings effort. She’s one of three incumbent state Senators from Washington County — along with eternal Republican Bill “Survey Says” Doyle and Prog/Dem Anthony Pollina. She’s running for a fifth term, and was the district’s top vote-getter in each of the last three races. fourth term; she’s been a strong candidate in her first three races, finishing first once (2010) and second twice (to then-Sen. Phil Scott in2008 and to Doyle in 2012).

So maybe she thinks she doesn’t have to try. But the Republicans have themselves a solid candidate in Pat McDonald this time. She’s a former state representative and state GOP chair, and she held administrative positions under Governors Snelling, Dean, and Douglas. Republicans have high hopes that she can turn a second Washington County seat to the GOP.

If past results are anything to go by, McDonald is a bigger threat to Pollina than to Cummings. But this ad doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

The Milne campaign does something smart. Stop laughing, I mean it.

Do Not Adjust Your Set. It’s True, It’s Damn True.

Scott Milne’s people, a.k.a. Brent Burns, put out a press release listing the names of prominent Republicans who have endorsed his candidacy.

And it’s an impressive list. 42 names of current and former officeholders. It puts to shame the tiny number of dead-enders and no-hopers who’ve opted for Libertarian Dan Feliciano.

It begins with former Governor Jim Douglas, the shining star of contemporary Republicanism. Unlike other people I could name (ahem, Phil Scott), Douglas has come out of his hidey hole and actually campaigned for Milne. His endorsement alone is worth approximately 1,000 Darcie “Hack” Johnstons.

After that, you get most of the VTGOP’s Senate delegation – Bill Doyle, Joe Benning, Norm McAllister, Peg Flory, and Kevin Mullin. From the House, add Kurt Wright, Heidi Scheuermann, Patti Komline, Chuck Pearce, Tom Koch, and Duncan Kilmartin and many more, plus former Rep and current Senate candidate Pat McDonald. A couple of interesting names: former Representative and current Senate candidate Dustin Degree and current Rep. Tony Terenzini, neither of whom are particularly moderate folks.

This primary-eve blast should put to rest any talk of a Feliciano groundswell. A couple of state party officials may have turned their backs on Milne, but the bulk of its officeholders – those with proven appeal to actual voters – are solidly behind him.

 

Early afternoon thoughts on campaign finance filing day

First, a couple newsworthy Tweets from VPR’s Peter Hirschfeld. He reports that the Scott Milne campaign will report roughly $20,000 in contributions, and that Phil Scott will report about $50,000. Milne’s total is awfully pitiful; Scott’s still got a ways to go to catch up with Dean Corren, who qualifies for up to $200,000 in public financing.

As of 1 p.m., neither candidate had actually filed. Other notes:

— The aforementioned Corren reported just under $20,000 in donations from 862 donors. No single donation is worth more than $50. That’s an impressive show of organization and appeal.

— If you want a snapshot of the relative financial pull of the Democrats and Republicans, take a look at their respective House campaign operations. The Dems have raised a daunting $108,000 for their House campaign kitty and spent almost all of that. Notable on the expense ledger are salaries for two campaign staffers — just for the House campaign. (The Repubs, at last check, had one paid staffer for the entire state party. Might be two.) The Republicans’ House campaign operation has raised a paltry $12,000 and spent about 5K.

— Most of the House Dems’ money has come from two sources: State Representatives financially supporting a joint campaign, and corporations and their PACs. Big bucks from MVP Health Care, the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, the Vermont Realtor PAC, New England Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the Corrections Corporation of America (yuck), among others.

— You know which PAC has taken in more money than the Republicans’ House campaign? The Common Sense Leadership PAC, the brainchild of House Minority Leader Don Turner. He’s raised $26,000 for this cycle and spent $12,000. None of it on donations to House candidates. He has paid $2700 to consultant Shayne Spence, and $900 to Johnston Consulting. Why he’s wasting money on Darcie Johnston’s “expertise” only he can say. Turner raised $10,000 of his money in $2000 increments from two stalwart Republican families: the Vallees and the Pizzagallis.

— In the closely-watched State Senate race in Windham County, Joan Bowman has reported donations totaling $1500. But about three-quarters of that is from herself or her family. Bowman is one of four Democrats running for two Senate nominations in August: the others are incumbent Jeanette White, former Douglas Administration cabinet member “Artful” Roger Allbee, and newcomer Becca Balint. It’ll be interesting to see how much Balint takes in; from the outside, it looks like she and Bowman are in a face-off for the non-White, non-Allbee votes.

Bill Doyle doesn’t have to lift a finger, and isn’t. He’s sitting on a balance of $6,500 from previous campaigns. He’s raised $100 this year and spent nothing. I think he’s rightly confident.

Pat McDonald, the former Republican State Rep who’s now running for one of Washington County’s three seats, has racked up a noteworthy $10,000 in donations. She’s spent about half of that.

Doug Hoffer has raised a modest $4400 and spent most of it. Well, he is essentially unopposed in his bid for a second term as Auditor. The bulk of his spending was in two contributions to the state Democratic organization: $1500 to the party, and $2250 to the Dems’ “coordinated campaign.” I guess Doug’s taking this “Prog running as a Prog/Dem” thing seriously.

— Former Republican Representative Oliver Olsen, on the comeback trail as an Independent, is raking in the cash (by House standards). He’s raised $5,700, and spent almost nothing.

— Who hasn’t been a candidate in four years, but keeps on filing campaign finance reports? Matt Dunne, that’s who. He filed as “not a candidate” and reported a carry-over surplus of $2,856.54.

— Former Democratic State Senator Bill Carris, who resigned for health reasons in 2012 (Eldred French was appointed to fill out his term), has liquidated his campaign funds. He had $9400 on hand, and distributed it to a variety of candidates and the state Democratic Party. Notable gifts: $2000 to Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, $1000 to French’s re-election campaign, and $1800 to his son William Tracy Carris, who’s also running for a Democratic nomination in Rutland County, which has a total of three Senate seats.

— Perhaps the most active of Republican groups so far, at least in terms of supporting candidates, is the Green Mountain Republican Senatorial Committee, which has raised over $15,000 and given healthy start-up contributions of $1500 each to Senator Kevin Mullin and Senate candidate Brian Cullamore, both of Rutland county; and $1,000 apiece to Senator Norm McAllister and Senate hopefuls Dustin Degree, Pat McDonald, Joy Limoge, and Bob Frenier.

I’ll be watching the filings all afternoon. (What a life.) More updates later. Stay tuned!