Tag Archives: Paul Dame

Know Your Parasites

There’s a notion prevalent among Vermont Republicans that the Progressives are secretly controlling the Vermont Democratic Party.

Now, you run that by any Progressive and the response will be a bitter laugh. They only wish.

This idea recently came at me from two directions: VTGOP Chair Paul Dame in one of his weekly “newsletters” sent to the party’s email list. I would have ignored Dame, but then it was repeated in the comments section of this here blog by none other than H. Brooke Paige, Republican candidate-at-large.

Dame’s version was the more colorful, by which I mean revolting. He chose a horsehair worm (seen above), which grows inside the body of a cricket or other large insect and drives a host’s behavior in ways beneficial to itself.

See, the Progs are the worm and the Dems are the hapless host.

(Also, side issue, but is Dame hoping to win friends and influence people by talking about disgusting parasites in his essays? He refers to it as “a fascinating creature,” so maybe he thinks everybody would be equally fascinated rather than repelled.)

Again, bitter laugh from any Prog who sees this.

Continue reading

The Great VDP Reboot of 2022

When you add up a number of things previously reported in this space — new leadership at the Vermont Democratic Party that seems to know what it’s doing for a change, the emergence of Becca Balint and Mike Pieciak as formidable political forces — plus a few more, a clear picture emerges. The Vermont Democratic Party has risen from a long dismal period and is now moving from strength to strength. If the Republicans thought they might be closing the gap in any meaningful way, well, they are sadly mistaken.

The party’s internal organization is stronger than it’s been for years. Fundraising has improved greatly. And now there’s an impressively deep bench with numerous officeholders capable of climbing the ladder. In addition to Balint and Pieciak, there’s also Attorney General-in-Waiting Charity Clark and All But Secretary of State Sarah Copeland Hanzas. And we should not forget House Speaker Jill Krowinski, no sirree.

(Say, has the Vermont Republican Party found some patsies to run statewide yet? No? Yes? Does it matter?)

(UPDATE! They found guys for auditor and attorney general, still looking for treasurer. And no, it doesn’t matter.)

This is a stark change from the stasis of the past decade, when some really good people with no political upside held these offices. Plus TJ Donovan. (Well, Beth Pearce had political upside but she didn’t want it.)

The latest fundraising figures, studiously ignored by the tattered remnants of the political press, show the VDP continuing its upward trajectory. In July, the party took in $84,121 and spent $56,833, improving its cash balance to $267,095. At the beginning of 2022, the VDP had a mere $43,238 in the bank. And boosting their reserves is a real accomplishment when simultaneously gearing up for an election campaign.

Continue reading

Here’s a New One: Juneteenth is a Holiday for White Republicans

Man, oh Manischevitz. Paul Dame has outdone himself.

Last time it was implying that the schools are the root cause of school shootings because of whatever they’re doing to alienate young white men. Now? He’s spun a twisted tale of slavery’s end that puts white Republicans at the center of Juneteenth and elides the unrelenting grimness of post-slavery life for black Americans.

And, of course, omits the GOP’s own complicity in abandoning the newly-freed Black folk for the sake of short-term political advantage.

For those just joining us, VTGOP chair Dame puts out a brief weekly email blast that makes you yearn for the clear thinking and deathless prose of Ben Shapiro. The latest edition is entitled “Juneteenth: A Promise Kept,” which gives you a foretaste of what’s to come.

It’s deeply, offensively stupid.

Continue reading

Didja Ever Think That Maybe School Shootings Are the Schools’ Fault? Hmm?

VTGOP chair Paul Dame, that rhetorical blunderbuss who thinks he’s a surgical instrument, is at it again. In one of his recent Deep Thoughts, Dame offered some half-baked, wrong-headed theorizing on mass shootings in schools. It would have been pathetic if it wasn’t so damn offensive.

Republicans have been scrambling, post-Uvalde, to skirt the real issue around mass shootings, which is THE GUNS. Not the handguns or shotguns or single-shot rifles, but the murder machines we let pretty much anyone buy, possess, and deploy against the innocent.

But Dame doesn’t ape the usual Republican talking points of mental health or lax security. He’s had a brainsplosion of his own: It’s the schools’ fault.

Oh, he doesn’t come right out and say so. He questions. He implies. He earnestly ponders. He evokes the “sense of shock and frustration” that he clearly doesn’t share, or he wouldn’t be using the tragedy to make a stupid, inaccurate political point.

Time to dig into this manure pile and see if there’s a pony in there. (Spoiler alert: There isn’t.)

Continue reading

This Should Be a Very Good Year for the VDP

Recently I was talking with a couple of friends in the #vtpoli world, and I casually remarked that 2022 should be a good year for the Vermont Democratic Party. I thought it was kind of obvious, but I was met with puzzled looks. So I explained my reasoning. And I thought that if the VDP’s advantage is less obvious than I thought, maybe it needs to be explained in this space.

I’ve got six reasons for seeing a big 2022 ahead for the Dems. Let’s start with their inherent advantage in the Vermont electorate. Statewide, a generic Democrat starts out with at least a 10-point edge over any Republican not named Phil Scott. In the Legislature, the Dems consistently hover right around the two-thirds mark — usually just above in the Senate, just below in the House. But at worst, they can expect to hold more than 60% of all legislative seats. (It must be really depressing to be a Republican lawmaker, knowing you have little influence and no prospects.)

Other factors give the Dems an even bigger edge in this particular year. Like Proposition 5 and the U.S. Supreme Court. When Democrats proposed enshrining reproductive rights in the state constitution, it seemed kind of superfluous. I mean, who’s going to ban abortion in reliably blue Vermont? Now, with the high court’s majority trending in a Handmaid’s Tale direction, reproductive rights are in question. Even before Alito Mussolini’s decision was leaked, Vermont Democrats saw Prop 5 as a turnout-booster in a non-presidential election year. Now, reproductive rights are front and center and Prop 5 is, as they say about police procedurals, “ripped from the headlines.” It should galvanize pro-choice voters.

After the jump: Money, organization, an unprecedented campaign season, and a unique Democratic resource.

Continue reading

Lightning Round!

As the Legislature winds down, the political news is coming thick and fast. Got several items worthy of comment including Gov. Phil Scott’s generic condemnation of persons unknown, a better use for the state’s “extra” money, three potentially interesting House races, and a depressingly rote report on last night’s Congressional debate. Let’s GOOOO!!!

Scott condemns… somebody. Perhaps because of the killing of Fern Feather, the governor (or his comms staff) took to Twitter and amped up his language condemning hate speech in the political arena. He cited “disturbing hostility toward the transgender community” and lamented that Vermont “is not immune to this.” It was a good statement, as far as it went.

But he failed to mention the source of all the hostility: his own Republican Party. He also failed to name the two individuals responsible for bringing the hate home: VTGOP chair Paul Dame and Burlington Republican Committee chair Christopher-Aaron Felker. As long as the governor refrains from identifying those responsible and refuses to step into his own party and deal with this garbage, his words are sadly empty, In the vernacular, it’s time for him to grow a pair.

Continue reading

This Is Your Vermont Republican Party

Christopher-Aaron Felker, spectacularly unsuccessful Burlington City Council candidate and chair of the burning wreck of the city Republican committee, caused quite the stir Monday on the Twitter machine. He tagged the “groomer” label on Democratic and Progressive lawmakers who’ve sponsored a bill to allow minors to seek gender-affirming treatment without parental consent.

There’s hardly a more despicable word you could use to tar a political opponent. You’re basically calling them pedophiles.

It’s beyond the pale. It ought to make Felker persona non grata in polite circles. And in the Republican Party as well.

But it won’t.

It won’t because, Phil Scott notwithstanding, This Is Your Vermont Republican Party. The governor isn’t merely an outlier in his own party; he’s the lone inhabitant on an island that’s slowly sinking under the waves.

Felker took it beyond the pale, but the illustration and the talking point came straight from the VTGOP. Its chair, Paul Dame, might be a bit more restrained than Felker, but he’s operating out of the same defamatory playbook, fearmongering a bill that’s already dead for the session.

So why should we expect the party to punish Felker over one simple additional word?

Continue reading

The VTGOP’s Little Oligarchs

I’ve written before of the delicate high-wire act between moderates and far-righters that VTGOP chair Paul Dame is perfectly unsuited to carry out. He’s got to try to encompass the Phil Scott camp and all the ultraconservatives who litter the party apparatus.

Turns out, he also has to play nice with a coterie of big donors ($1,000 or more apiece) who are keeping the party above water, and most of them tilt strongly rightward.

The VTGOP has had fundraising trouble since I started tracking #vtpoli back in 2011. They still do. A check of the party’s FEC filings shows that, from January 2021 through February 2022, total party fundraising added up to $94,081. They got another $14,350 from the Republican National Committee, bringing total takings to $108,431.

That’s less than $10,000 a month, even with the RNC’s pity money.

Compare that to the Vermont Democratic Party, which raised almost $300,000 from individual donors in the same period — at a time when the party was seriously disorganized and suffering frequent turnover among leadership and staff. But that’s just the beginning; the VDP took in another 300K from other organizations. Almost two-thirds of that came from the Democratic National Committee. Most of the rest came from Democratic politicians’ campaign funds and members of Vermont’s Congressional delegation as well as a couple of big labor unions and, for some reason, $500 apiece from sports-gambling giants FanDuel and DraftKings.

Add it all up, and it’s more than $600,000 in the same period when the VTGOP barely cleared $100,000.

So the VTGOP is scrambling for any dollar it can find. And of its fundraising total, $42,670 — more than 45% — came from big-dollar donors. Well, big-dollar by Vermont standards anyway. But clearly, they make up enough of the VTGOP’s donor base that they have to be catered to. Now, let’s look at who they are.

Continue reading

VTGOP Chair Blows the Gender Panic Dog Whistle As Loudly As He Can

Paul Dame has struck again. The VTGOP chair knows that he can’t follow the national Republican playbook verbatim because it’d be a losing proposition in Vermont, so he tries to roll out shaded, nuanced, softened versions of the hard-right talking points.

This time, in his weekly email blast, he turned his attention to the big conservative bugaboo of the news cycle: GENDER PANIC!!!!!!!

The missive is entitled “Progressive Democrats Try To Strip Parental Consent.” In it, Dame waves the bloody shirt over H.659, a bill that would allow nonsurgical, gender-affirming care for minors without parental consent. The bill’s lead sponsors are Reps. Taylor Small and Tanya Vyhovsky, which Dame spells “Vyyhovsky.” Oops.

See, in the Vermont political environment, Dame can’t come right out and advocate a ban on gender-affirming treatment or discussion of gender in the schools because he’d risk alienating too many voters. So he has to aim lower. He sees “parental consent” as a hittable target. It’s also the VTGOP version of fighting abortion rights; they can’t possibly win on banning abortions, so they circle the wagons around parental consent.

But even though Dame has smoothed off the extreme edges of the argument, his piece is built on a lie and gets worse from there.

Continue reading

VTGOP Chair Dog-Whistling With All His Breath

At times I feel sorry for Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont Republican Party, seen here on one of his seldom-watched YouTube thingies (posted 2/18, racked up 40 views since). But then he goes and opens his mouth, and the sympathy evaporates.

Dame has a staff of no one, and he’s got the thankless task of cosseting the Trumpites and the QAnon types without alienating the center and center-right voters necessary for electoral success. He carries out that delicate endeavor with all the grace of a rhinoceros on a high wire.

Take his reaction to Tuesday’s Town Meeting results, in which almost every right-wing fanatic lost their bid for local office. In an email to Seven Days, he claimed that the results had nothing to do with ideology; they were simply a matter of incumbent’s advantage.

Yeah, well, that might be true for races with actual incumbents, but it leaves out all the other contests that saw non-incumbent, non-extremist candidates absolutely mollywhop their far-right opponents. But I guess Dame has to find an explanation besides “Vermont voters are sickened by extremism.” That wouldn’t play well with the base.

He then went on to blame Emerge Vermont (!!!!!) for politicizing local elections.

Continue reading