Tag Archives: Skip Vallee

What if Phil Scott loses?

In my second-most-recent post, I listed all the bad news visited upon Vermont Republicans over the past few days. I ended by asking “What if Phil Scott loses?”

I’ll get to that question, but in the meantime, WCAX released its own poll showing Scott with a seven-point lead over Sue Minter, which has triggered much rejoicing Chez Phil.

In his lede, WCAX’s usually reliable Kyle Midura made an unwarranted inference: since the VPR Poll had shown a statistical dead heat, the TV poll shows that Scott is “pulling ahead.”

Which, c’mon now. These are two polls from different organizations with possibly differing methodologies. (We don’t know because WCAX hasn’t released any details. VPR has disclosed all of that.) Drawing that direct a line between the two polls is misleading at best.

What we have are two data points. One (VPR) from an in-state academic polling outfit, one (WCAX) from a New Jersey-based for-profit firm.

Pollster Paul Braun engaged in some speculation that ought to unnerve those placing a lot of weight on his survey. He credited the WCAX gubernatorial debate for driving Scott’s alleged momentum — when, in fact, debate audiences tend to be very small, and the impact of debates on public opinion is also small. (Unless you pull a Trump, of course.) There is no evidence to support Braun’s assertion.

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Big donors, big money in targeted House districts

Two years ago, the Republican State Leadership Committee funneled $370,000 into Vermont, backing candidates in close races for the Vermont House. The VTGOP won several of those seats and took away the Democrats’ supermajority status.

So far this year, the RSLC has spent a lot less. But a handful of closer-to-home moneybags have taken matters into their own hands. They’ve donated more than $100,000 to individual Republican House candidates and House Minority Leader Don Turner’s political action committee.

In the small-dollar world of State House campaigns, that’s a huge amount of money.

First, a hat tip to Green Mountain Daily’s Sue Prent, who reported on the Franklin County iteration of this phenomenon a couple weeks ago. Turns out, it’s only part of a bigger pattern. But because the money is broadly dispersed, the pattern has attracted little attention.

Two of the donors are familiar names to anyone who follows Vermont politics. The other two might be new to you.

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Bruce’s Worst Investment, and Other Gleanings from Campaign Finance Day

So, finally, we get our second window into the money game behind the primary campaigns. A few toplines:

— Bruce Lisman is spending gobs of cash and getting bupkis in return

— Phil Scott’s chugging along; will have to pick up the pace after the primary

— Sue Minter pulls ahead in the Democratic fundraising game

— Matt Dunne’s early momentum slows a bit

— Peter Galbraith is keeping his own campaign alive. Barely

And now, the details.

Wall Street millionaire Bruce Lisman has put $1.6 million of his own money into his campaign, raised precious little money from others, and has been spending at a blistering pace. He’s raised more than $1.8 million, but he has less than $200,000 cash on hand.

Well, he can always write more checks.

But let’s stop for a moment and savor the fact that Bruce Lisman has already spent more money than any gubernatorial candidate in Vermont history — and the primary is still three and a half weeks away. And he places dismally in the available polls.

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Pathways to Electoral Failure, Fringe Republican Edition

We have two stories today touching on a common theme: how not to appeal to the Vermont electorate. One involves a presidential candidate allying himself with a Republican moneybags with deep pockets and imperceptible electoral appeal; the other involves a young lawmaker on the rise who seems to be an acolyte of America’s Crankiest Novelist and America’s Most Notorious Ophthalmologist.

First, the candidate and the moneybags:

Yep, that’s Florida Senator Marco Rubio believing that Skip Vallee will “do great things” for his campaign. (Tweet was first noted by the Free Press’ Emilie Teresa Stigliani.) Well, Skip will probably do great things for Rubio’s bottom line. But as for strengthening his campaign, not so much. Rubio can be forgiven for not knowing the details of Skippy’s political rap sheet, being from Florida and all. But just in case he’s reading this blog, God only knows why, let’s do the numbers.

The high point of Skip Vallee’s political career was when he donated enough money to the Bush 2004 campaign to wangle himself the ambassadorship to the Slovak Republic. Aside from that, Skipper’s political career has been purely a figment of his own imagination. In his only bid for elective office, Vallee lost the 2000 race for State Senate in Chittenden County, despite what must have been the most expensive State Senate campaign in state history: he spent $134,000. And still lost.

Vallee has never run for office again — although he keeps hinting and nosing around, as if he can’t believe his proven unpopularity.

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Riddle me this, Gasman

On Friday, I had to drive from Montpelier to Burlington. And, since gas is always more expensive in the Queen City and environs, I made sure to fill the tank before I hit the freeway.

But when I got to Burlington, what to my wondrous eyes did appear?

Gas was cheaper. Anywhere from five to 15 cents a gallon cheaper than in Montpelier.

Huh.

This hasn’t happened in, I don’t know, roughly forever. Gas is always more expensive in Burlington.

For years, Bernie Sanders has been alleging price fixing by the four companies that own most of Chittenden County’s gas stations. The companies have consistently denied any collusion — although, it must be noted, they usually bring down their prices for a while after Bernie kicks up a fuss. And then quietly goose them back up once the heat’s off.

Still, no matter how loud Bernie gets, they’ve never actually gone lower than adjacent markets.

So what could have caused this historic price drop?

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Skip Vallee is a bitter man

Oh, Rodolphe. Why can’t you just tend to your knitting? I actually like stopping at your gas stations, with their clean (!) restrooms tastefully decorated with fake flowers and chairs nobody ever sits in.

But please, let go of your Bernie Sanders fetish.

As you may recall, Our Junior Senator has made a big stink about high gas prices in Chittenden County, pointing the finger at the cartel that owns most of the area’s gas stations. Skippy, the frustrated politician wannabe, fired back — challenging Bernie to a debate. Bernie, rightfully, ignored him.

And wouldn’t you know it, after Bernie’s public splash, Burlington-area gas Skipprices came down. At least for a while. Now, as the Burlington Free Press reported, they’ve gone back up. Gotta pay for all those plastic flowers somehow.

Well, now Skip has turned his grudge into a political ad criticizing Bernie over the Burlington College mess. Bernie’s wife Jane is a former BC president, and it’s fair to say that her grandiose expansion plans played a part in the college’s current financial difficulties. The ad is on YouTube now, but Vallee plans to run it on local TV. The ad ad blasts Bernie and Jane for getting a “golden parachute” from Burlington College.

A “golden parachute” worth… wait for it…

… $200,000.

Really more of a zinc parachute, isn’t it?

Not that 200 G’s is anything to sneeze at, but it’s perfectly reasonable in comparison to severance packages given to top executives — even at nonprofits. And by corporate standards, well, it’s pocket change.

But that’s not my real point here. The main thing is, Vallee spending thousands of dollars to run an ad with no real purpose. Bernie’s not up for re-election until 2018, for God’s sake.

Skip’s spending Your Gas-Buying Dollars to toss a little gratuitous mud at Bernie Sanders, apparently because Bernie dared to point out that Vallee and his cronies were profiting from artificially high gas prices. And because Bernie’s campaign worked — forcing Skippy and Friends to, at least temporarily, bring their prices down.

Revenge is a dish best served out of a convenience-store microwave. Am I right, Skippy?