Gerald Malloy made the customary Election Eve rounds of all 14 Vermont counties today. The antepenultimate stop was in Rutland, where his visit sparked a touching memory of an early encounter that fortified him for the long road ahead.
“Dolores Luebke,” hmmm….
Would that be the Dolores Luebke who’s served as chair of the Pawlet Republican Committee? The Dolores Luebke who’s a Second Amendment absolutist? The Dolores Luebke who has repeatedly made baseless accusations of election fraud against former state representative Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, who’s now running to retake his old seat?
Yeah, if that’s the kind of “substance” Malloy possesses, allow me to fervently hope he loses by a truly embarrassing margin.
That just about sums up the brief, undistinguished legislative career of ultraconservative state Rep. Sally Achey. Which means it’s extremely heartening to see former representative (and Prog caucus chief) Robin Chesnut-Tangerman stepping back into the fray,
The news was first reported by Guy Page at the Vermont Daily Chronicle, which ought to be a little bit embarrassing for what’s left of the Vermont political press. I mean, Guy Page, Progressive insider?
Chesnut-Tangerman was chosen by the district Democratic Party committee after Democratic primary winner Chris Hoyt withdrew for family reasons. Smart choice.
In 2020, Chesnut-Tangerman lost to Achey by a mere 32 votes out of 2,809 cast. Achey was a Klar Klan ReKruit, a member of “Farmer” John Klar’s merry Agripublican band of extremists. Her victory was a calamity for the Progressive Party and for the district, since Achey has achieved nothing in her two years in office except sitting on the House Energy & Technology Committee, which seems like somebody’s idea of a bad joke, and complaining about climate change legislation.
As promised, my lukewarm takes on the Vermont election results in the customary slash lazy columnist “Winners and Losers” style.
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner: Gov. Phil Scott. Highest vote total in history for any gubernatorial candidate. Rode his adequate handling of the pandemic to a lopsided victory over a game but under-resourced Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman. More than half of the Joe Biden voters crossed party lines to elect Scott.
Just to pin that down, Scott unofficially has 248,248 votes while Zuckerman failed to crack six figures. Biden finished with 242,680. Or compare Scott to his Republican ticketmates: Donald Trump took 112,507 votes, Miriam Berry (sacrificial lamb to Peter Welch) 95,763. The voters returned lopsided (and only marginally diminished) Dem/Prog majorities to the Legislature.
Scott also saw the Dems’ chances of overriding his frequent vetoes take a hit, with the loss of a few House seats. Every single seat matters when you’re trying to get to 100. Plus, the Dems and Progs will have to identify new House leadership. A new Speaker needs at least a year to learn the ropes.
If there’s a formula for defeating Phil Scott, the Democrats have yet to identify it. Hell, this year they kinda stopped trying. Which will come back to bite them if Scott makes a run for the next U.S. Senate opening. Successor to Bernie Sanders? There’s some bitter irony for you. (He’d have to relinquish the governorship in 2021 to take on Pat Leahy or [insert Democrat here] in 2022. I don’t see him doing that.)
Losers: Capital-P Progressives and their infrastructure. The good news for the Progs is that they managed to add a seat in the House. Otherwise, 2020 has been a disaster. Tim Ashe bombed out in the LG primary, Zuckerman cratered last night, they lost their two House caucus leaders, Robin Chesnut-Tangerman and Diana Gonzalez*, and Sen. Chris Pearson continues to be the least popular member of the Chittenden delegation.
*Note: After she announced she was stepping away from the Legislature, Gonzalez was replaced by Selene Colburn in the deputy leader role. So it’s incorrect to say that the Progs lost both leaders in the election, although they did lose both during the course of the year.
Until proven otherwise, Bernie Sanders has no coattails. There is no evidence that he can push a Progressive or progressive to victory in Vermont. If he’s building a legacy or a movement that will survive his personal appeal, he ain’t doing it here.
I also have to ask: What exactly does Rights & Democracy accomplish? They spend a lot of money, much of it from Sts. Ben and Jerry, to no visible effect. I see little sign that they’re building a movement that can influence Vermont politics. Or New Hampshire politics, for that matter, since R&D is a twin-state organization. The NH Dems held serve in Congress, but failed to take down Gov. Chris Sununu and are on track for minority status in the NH House and Senate.
I’m sure the progressive Twitterverse will be all over me for this, but look, I’d love to live in a world where we’ve just elected Bernie or (my choice) Elizabeth Warren and we won 55 U.S. Senate seats and we were poised to create the Green Economy and enact universal health care and some serious regulation of the financial sector and court reforms and voting rights protections. But we don’t. And I see no objective evidence to support the notion that there’s an invisible army of progressive voters just waiting for the right “messaging” to get them stampeding to the polls.
After the jump: Room on the Democratic ladder, limited gains for the VTGOP, and more.