Note: This post supersedes the earlier one entitled “Super Dave Stands Pat.”
The tedious business of democracy. Clockwise from front: Director of Elections WIll Senning, Secretary of State Jim Condos, Crystal Zevon of the Liberty Union Party, and Kelly Mangan of the Progressive Party. (And at right rear, former Free Press reporter Nancy Remsen.)
The state board of canvassers met this morning in a hot, sticky conference room full of media folks awaiting the Big News.
Which, of course, was a complete anticlimax; the election results posted on the Secretary of State’s website were quickly confirmed, with Governor Shumlin holding a 2,434-vote lead over Scott Milne.
A couple hours, later, Milne issued a press release from his secure undisclosed location (seriously, I don’t know how this guy would handle it if he had to meet the media on a regular basis) saying that he would not request a recount. And adding the customary passive-aggressive note: “I trust that Peter Shumlin won the plurality.”
In other words, “I’m pretty sure Jim Condos didn’t steal this puppy.”
Also, he noted that “this race is one of the closest in Vermont history,” and Shumlin’s performance was extremely weak for an incumbent. In other words, “I lost, but I really won.”
And black is white, and war is peace.
Anyway, mighty white of him to forego the recount. But on the larger issue — will he pursue the race into the Legislature? — he was less forthcoming.
Milne plans to address the press and public in an announcement next week regarding the Legislature’s Constitutional duty in January.
“Next week,” by Milne’s standards, might be anytime between tomorrow and Christmas Day.
But I’m not surprised that he’s continuing to troll the entire state with his novel reasoning that the loser should be declared the winner. He’s not alone; VTGOP chair “Super Dave” Sunderland attended the canvassers’ meeting, and did some heavy trolling afterward.
Uh, Dave… I don’t think Stewie’s buying it.
He told the media that it’s not up to Milne whether to pursue the legislative option because “The Constitution lays out the process that needs to happen. There’s no avoiding a vote in January. It’s required.”
Which is technically true, but in the past, losing candidates have voluntarily withdrawn before the legislature’s vote, to banish uncertainty and allow the winner to get on with the business of governing.
His advice for the candidate?
My advice to Scott is to follow his instincts and do what’s best for Vermont. We certainly have a clear popular vote winner, and you know, how it breaks down in the Legislature district by district tells us maybe a little bit different story, and I think Scott’s weighing those options right now.
Ah, the district-by-district canard. An argument that’s never, ever been raised before in Vermont history. Don’t believe me? Well, Paul Heintz went to an unimpheachable source: former state archivist Gregory Sanford, who said that Milne’s district-by-district idea “simply has no precedent.”
Sanford also outlined all three times when the top vote-getter was not elected governor, and all three had a distinctly fishy smell:
In 1789, legislators ditched incumbent Thomas Chittenden in favor of Moses Robinson after the former was ensnared in a sketchy land deal. In 1835, lawmakers cast 63 inconclusive ballots before giving up and letting lieutenant governor Silas Jennison serve as acting governor. And in 1853, the Democrats and Free Soil Democrats teamed up to steal the state’s top jobs from the Whigs, whose slate of candidates won pluralities.
But Sunderland? This guardian of the Vermont Way is clinging to Milne’s non-precedent. When the former state representative was asked how he would vote if given the chance, he danced around for a while before giving a kinda-sorta answer:
Well, I think every election is different. And I think every legislator is different year to year, session to session, district to district. My district, in this election, voted strongly for Scott Milne, and I would definitely take that into consideration, unless there were some other um strong um… uh… some strong push from a personal conscience standpoint, um, I think I’d be inclined to vote the way my constituents voted in my district. But that’s not to say there might be exceptions.
Yup, the Republican trolling continues apace. They know that the legislature is not going to ignore precedent and choose the loser over the winner. But they want to keep the question open as long as they can, to distract our attention and pester the Democrats.