Tag Archives: Sarah Fair George

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Primary

Well, primary night turned out to be quite a bit less exciting than we thought. With a few exceptions, the races that seemed unpredictable weren’t, in the end, very close at all. What follows is a selection of post-midnight thoughts, none of which are about the gubernatorial race because the primaries were uncompetitive.

1. Those unbelievable polls were right about the Democratic primary for Congress. Becca Balint beat the metaphorical pants off Molly Gray. In the end, the margin was 23 percentage points. Remember back in January, when Gray had gotten off to a hot start and Balint was entering the race at the same time she had to manage the Senate Democratic Caucus? Seemed like Gray had the edge. Hell, it seemed like Balint might get squeezed between centrist Gray and progressive Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale.

I think Gray did have the edge at the time. So what happened? Balint caught fire with the Democratic electorate while Gray’s bio-heavy, policy-lite approach wore out its welcome. When it became clear that Balint was pulling ahead, Gray started flailing around, presenting herself as a pragmatist (be still, my heart) while depicting Balint as a Bernie Sanders clone. Yes, Bernie, Vermont’s most popular politician. Gray’s attack lines were implausible from the get-go. Did anyone really believe that Balint was an uncompromising ideologue or a captive of shady out-of-state money? No. For an attack to be effective, it has to be plausibly based in a candidate’s real or perceived weaknesses.

2. Everyone involved in Gray’s campaign has some soul-searching to do. Not only because they lost badly despite the very public blessing of St. Patrick Leahy, but also because they burned a lot of bridges in Democratic circles by going negative.

2a. Is this the end of Team Leahy’s dominance in Democratic politics? They bet big on Gray, and she rolled snake eyes. Leahy will remain a beloved figure but a sidelined one. His team, meanwhile, soiled themselves and dragged Leahy down with them. If there was any belief that they had the corner on political savvy in Vermont, well, that balloon has burst.

3. Oh Lord, the Republicans. They emerge from the primary with a statewide “ticket” of Gerald Malloy, Liam Madden, Phil Scott, Joe Benning, H. Brooke Paige, H. Brooke Paige, H. Brooke Paige, and H. Brooke Paige. The VTGOP now has a few days to cobble together a slate of candidates to supplant Paige, and none of them will have a prayer of a chance. Besides Scott, Benning is the only winner who’s not a walking, talking joke, and his campaign is operating on a shoestring. He’ll be a decent candidate, but he’s not going to win.

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All the Tropes, All the Dog Whistles

I am not bound by the journalistic tradition of staying away from political reporting while the polls are open, and there are a couple things I’m itching to write about: Whether Molly Gray is burning every available bridge in the desperate closing days of her campaign, and how Ted Kenney’s stand on substance abuse reveals him to be unqualified for the position he seeks.

But Gray and Kenney won’t be relevant much longer, and Kenney’s statement is only the second stupidest I’ve seen from a Vermont lawyer this week.

Number one with a (metaphorical) bullet is Grand Isle State’s Attorney Doug DiSabito’s letter depicting Burlington as a lawless hellhole with gunfights and stickups around every corner and no home safe from invasion. The letter he was so proud of that he posted it on Twitter. Good God.

I was 13 years old in 1967. Two years earlier, my family had moved from the placid provinces of western Michigan to a Detroit suburb. Then the ’67 riots happened.

It was an upscale burb, but we lived only seven miles away from the Detroit border. My mom kind of freaked out, believing (as many suburbanites did) that the angry hordes would tire of burning their own neighborhoods and storm en masse up Woodward Avenue, looting and trashing their way through White Folks World.

It didn’t happen, but a remnant of those days remained: a corner of our basement where my mom loaded up the shelves with nonperishable food. You know, to keep us fed in case the supermarkets were all destroyed, deliveries stopped coming, and bands of you-know-who were terrorizing the neighborhoods.

It was serious at the time and more than a little racist, but eventually it became a reserve pantry, a useful add-on to our tiny kitchen.

I see the rotten, fearful spirit of those days in DiSabito’s letter. It’s not pretty.

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Sarah Fair George Needs to Kick Ted Kenney’s Ass All Over Chittenden County

The ability of TV cops and lawyers to mete out justice in a cool 42 minutes notwithstanding, America’s criminal justice system is an unholy mess and a human rights catastrophe. We lead the planet in prison population and incarceration rate.

According to World Population Review, the United States is the only country on earth with more than two million people behind bars. China is second in the counting stat with 1.7 million — but they have a much larger population, so its incarceration rate is pretty reasonable, actually.

Our rate is, hip hip hooray, number one in the world. 629 of every 100,000 Americans is behind bars. We’re the only country over 600. There are only four other countries over 500, and it’s not a group you want to be part of. The four are Rwanda, Turkmenistan, El Salvador, and Cuba.

And yet we often live in fear of crime and violence. Funny, huh?

The system badly needs an overhaul. Progressive prosecutors around the country are trying to nibble away at the worst excesses of the system. They need to be supported and validated by the voters.

Which is why incumbent Sarah Fair George not only has to win the Democratic primary for Chittenden County State’s Attorney, but she has to win by the widest possible margin. Ted Kenney has to lose, and lose badly.

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The Great Chittenden County State’s Attorney Candidate Forum Kerfuffle of 2022

Warning: This post concerns a trivial political battle that should interest absolutely no one in their right mind. In other news, it’s Wednesday.

I seem to have triggered something with my recent post about Ted Kenney refusing to participate in forums and surveys in the primary race for Chittenden County State’s Attorney. After my original post about the Vermont ACLU, I was told that the Chittenden County Democrats had wanted to hold a forum for Democrat Kenney and incumbent Dem Sarah Fair George, but they canceled because Kenney declined all of the proposed dates and never suggested alternatives of his own.

So I added the Chittenden County bit to my post about the ACLU.

The resultant kerfuffle, recounted below in excruciating detail, amounts to this: Did Kenney refuse to participate in the Chittenden forum or not?

The answer to that question, in my mind, is: Literally no, but effectively yes.

And now the details.

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Let’s Not Blame the Prosecutor

I don’t know if the Ted Kenney campaign will have the gall to capitalize on Monday’s fatal shooting in Burlington, but if they don’t shout it from the rooftops, they will surely whisper it in the shadows. It seems like a political gift from the heavens for a tough-on-crime candidate looking to displace a progressive prosecutor.

But here’s the thing that caught my eye:

Using an AR-15 rifle, Dixon shot 22-year-old Kayla Noonan, a UVM student from New Jersey, and another 22-year-old woman who police have not identified, striking her multiple times, [Burlington Police Chief Jon] Murad said. Dixon subsequently shot and killed himself, the chief said.

Noonan was pronounced dead at the scene.

An AR-15, the gun of choice for mass murderers. Available for purchase just about anywhere.

Yeah, that’s not Sarah Fair George’s fault.

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Mr. Kenney Declines (UPDATED With Fresh Perfidy)

The busy beavers at the Vermont ACLU are giving some attention to the seldom-considered races for state’s attorney, especially the contested primaries in Addison, Chittenden, and Washington Counties. They’ve distributed an issues questionnaire, and they’re sponsoring a candidate forum on July 28 featuring the candidates from those three counties.

Well, most of them, anyway.

Declining to participate in the forum, you’ll be shocked to learn, is Ted Kenney, challenger to Chittenden incumbent Sarah Fair George and advocate of a vaguely defined admixture of reform and lock-’em-up.

Kenney also failed to return the ACLU’s candidate survey.

I guess it’s no surprise, since the ACLU supports the kind of reforms that George has championed. But it’s disappointing. I mean, if Kenney is tough enough to clean up Chittenden County, surely he’s got the cojones (or ovaries, if you prefer) to handle a skeptical encounter with a legitimate advocacy group.

Late add. I’ve been told that Kenney repeatedly stiffed the Chittenden County Democrats, who invited him to a forum. He told them he couldn’t make any of the suggested dates but never proposed any alternatives. So there’s that.

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“Cha-Ching” Goes the Race for Chittenden County State’s Attorney

Wow. Sarah Fair George and Ted Kenney are running what has to be the costliest race for state’s attorney in Vermont history. George, the incumbent, entered the race with $14,444 left over from previous campaigns and she’s raised another $34,623 this year from 182 separate donors. Challenger “Dead Eyes” Kenney has raised $33,331 from 129 donors.

Has this ever happened before? I can’t imagine it has.

(Side note: This may explain the relative absence of money in Chittenden County Senate races. The state’s attorney contest is attracting a lot of cash, presumably drawing funds away from other campaigns.)

Did anyone notice? The campaign finance reports were filed on July 1, and for the life of me I can’t find any reportage on this remarkable development.

Well, maybe not so remarkable. We knew this was going to be a red-hot contest between George’s progressive record and Kenney’s vaguely-defined combo platter of reform and crime reduction, but still. A combined $68,000 raised by July 1?

Kenney has dipped into his war chest (obligatory “war chest” reference, check) much more freely than George. As a result, George heads into the primary home stretch (obligatory “home stretch” reference, check) with a substantial edge in cash on hand.

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Hey Ted Kenney, This You?

Ted Kenney, candidate for Chittenden County State’s Attorney who’s attempting the Philippe Petit-worthy feat of running as crimefighter and social justice warrior at the same time, might want to be more careful about the company he keeps. Especially in his own Facebook videos.

Kenney is the man at the back left of the group of supporters marching in the Essex Memorial Day parade. The man running point, in the green T-shirt and wide-brimmed hat, is Travis Trybulski, former officer in the Williston Police Department.

He’s a former officer because he and the town signed a “separation agreement” ending his employment. Why? Because Trybulski was the subject of a Brady Letter, a notification from a county prosecutor that an officer’s credibility is so tainted that the prosecutor will no longer use the officer’s testimony in criminal cases.

The reason given in the letter: Trybulski’s numerous “violations of the Fair and Impartial Policing policy through a clear pattern of profiling and bias.” (Information from the Vermont ACLU’s excellent Brady Letter database.)

The letter was signed by Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah Fair George, the person Kenney is trying to unseat in the August Democratic primary. In this endeavor, Kenney is more than happy to have the public support of a racist cop who basically lost his job because of Sarah Fair George.

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And Another One Bites the Dust

Well now. One day after Beth Pearce announces she will not seek re-election, along comes Attorney General TJ Donovan to say he’s stepping aside. Might not even finish his term, in fact. Already his top deputy, Charity Clark, has taken to Twitter to announce she’s considering a run to succeed him.

That’s four, count ’em, four, openings out of our six statewide offices, and six out of nine if you include Congressional seats.

Anything you’re not telling us, governor? Auditor Hoffer?

Besides the lieutenant governor vacancy in 2020, it’s been a long time since any Democrat could see a way to move up the ladder. Now, it’s not so much a ladder as a single step onto a boundless plateau. Who’s got next?

Besides Clark, I have no idea. I’d love to see Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah Fair George give it a shot, but she seems uninterested. She told VTDigger she will run for re-election instead because she’s more interested in criminal law than in the civil cases that make up the bulk of the AGO’s work. Otherwise, I’m sure there are boatloads of people contemplating a run for AG or Treasurer.

This is going to be one hell of an August primary.

Well, that’s a look at my political crystal ball, hopelessly opaque like a furiously shaken snowglobe. But there are still a few things to say about Mr. Donovan and the odd specifics of his departure.

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The Empire Strikes Back?

Well, that [seemingly] came out of nowhere.

Ted Kenney, an attorney from Williston, told VTDigger he’s thinking about a primary challenge to incumbent Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah Fair George.

Under normal circumstances, this could be labeled “quixotic” but without the raffish charm of the original Quixote. Primarying an incumbent in a race that few people pay any attention to?

Why bother?

Well, I think I know why.

I think he thinks there’s a substantial constituency who prefer a more traditional approach to the office instead of George’s pioneering progressivism. And he may well be right, at least in terms of the power brokers and royal families and business-class donors in the county party.

Kenney’s run, if he makes one, is of a piece with Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger’s consistent pro-police stance — and whatever touched off the departure of Tyeastia Green, the first director of the Burlington Racial Equity Inclusion and Belonging Department (REIB) and the resignation of three of the REIB’s four managers.

If you’d like details about Weinberger’s law-n-order policies, click on the first link. Mark Hughes of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance runs down the ways that Weinberger — once he was safely re-elected with a plurality of the votes in a race against two progressive challengers — laid down the velvet glove in favor of an iron fist.

And he keeps waving the bloody flag, depicting the Queen City as a lawless wasteland whose handful of police officers dare not walk the streets. If Miro thinks that’s smart politics, is it any wonder that Kenney believes he could beat George by running to her right?

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