Tag Archives: Tanya Vyhovsky

Chittenden Senate: Brother, Can I Spare a Dime?

One thing stands out when you look over the campaign finance filings for the three state Senate districts in Chittenden County: There are lots of candidates, and most of ’em aren’t raising much money anywhere outside of their own pockets. Seems like a potential equity issue; if you can afford a couple thousand bucks or more, or a LOT more, you don’t have to worry so much about fundraising from other people.

Maybe this is a byproduct of splitting up the formerly unified Chittenden district: No longer can candidates raise money from anywhere in the county. Now they have smaller fields to harvest. Likely a bigger factor: There are a lot of contested statewide races consuming a lot of Democratic money, perhaps away from legislative races.)

The king of the self-funders is Erhard Mahnke, affordable housing advocate and longtime Bernie Sanders associate. He dumped a cool $10,000 into his own campaign, and has only raised $666 from anyone else. That gives him a financial lead in the Chittenden Central district, because he hasn’t spent much so far.

Other notable self-funders include Brian Shelden and Irene Wrenner, Democratic candidates in Chittenden North. They’ve given nearly $7,500 to their own campaigns and raised less than that from other people. Meanwhile, the sole Republican, state Rep. Leland Morgan, has barely tried. He’s raised less than $700. Perhaps he’s looked at district demographics and decided he doesn’t really need to try. Or he’s waiting until after the primary.

Back in Chittenden Central, the top three fundraisers have done well from their own pockets and from others, too.

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Lookin’ For Some New Moose

2022 is looking like a critical campaign season for the Vermont Progressive Party, full of peril and possibilities.

The peril is obvious. The two state senators who identify as Progressive/Democratic, Anthony Pollina and Chris Pearson, are stepping out of elective office. Cheryl Hooker, one of three senators who wear the Democratic/Progressive label, is also retiring. (The others are Phil Baruth and Andrew Perchlik.)

If the Progs don’t pick up seats somewhere, that would leave them with fractions of Baruth and Perchlik as their entire Senate caucus. That wouldn’t be good.

The Progs have some possibilities for shoring up their numbers. They have real hopes in the newly created Chittenden Central district, which includes the liberal parts of Burlington and Essex, and all of WInooski. Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky of Essex is running in the Democratic primary, and should stand a decent chance given the political nature of the district.

Other Democrats could pick up the Dem/Prog label, which would help. At least a couple of Pollina’s potential successors, Anne Watson and Jeremy Hansen, seem inclined to do so. Windham County senate candidate Wichie Artu seems cut from similar cloth.

We may also see, for the first time in years, a slate of Progressive candidates at the top of the ballot.

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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.

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Straw Men and Uppity Women (UPDATED)

So the big question on #vtpoli Twitter today was: Did Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling call Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky “uppity”?

Short answer: Yeah, kinda.

See note below: Schirling has issued a kinda-apology.

It happened in a Thursday hearing by the House Judiciary and Government Operations committees, to consider a statewide use-of-force policy for law enforcement personnel. I didn’t monitor the hearing live, but after seeing some outraged tweets, I listened to the passage in question. (One of the benefits of the Zoom Legislature is that all hearings are streamed live, and archived, on YouTube. I hope they continue the practice after We All Return To Whatever Normal Is.)

Vyhovsky and Schirling had a lengthy colloquy about current policy and practice. She questioned whether police should be trained, “first and foremost,” in de-escalation tactics instead of resorting to force. Schirling acknowledged the need to review training practices, but said her premise (that police use force more often than they should because of the training they receive) was dead wrong.

I’ll go through the confab in more detail after the jump, but first we’ll cut to the chase. At the end of the back-and-forth, Schirling made reference to “the somewhat uppity exchange that the Representative and I had.” He paused before “uppity.” I think he was searching for the right word. He chose the wrong one.

He did not actually refer to Vyhovsky as “uppity,” but that’s how he characterized their discussion. The problem is, “uppity” is often used to describe women or people of color who don’t “know their place.” It definitely has a pejorative connotation. And I doubt he would characterize himself as “uppity.”

Schirling committed another offense, albeit a very common one, elsewhere in the exchange. He consistently misinterpreted Vyhovsky’s points and instead whaled away at straw men of his own devising. He didn’t take her arguments seriously. Which is a subtler kind of sexism than calling someone “uppity.”

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