Tag Archives: Vermont Secretary of State

Another Republican hopeful steps forward

The industrious (and so far anonymous) folks behind RecruitFour, the drive to mount Republican write-in candidacies for Attorney General, Auditor, Secretary of State and Treasurer, has unveiled the second of its four.

The first, as reported in this space earlier today, is Burlington attorney Shane McCormack, who hopes to snag the AG nomination. The second, just announced, is Nicole Citro for Secretary of State.

Citro is co-owner of an insurance agency in South Burlington, but she’s best known as a public supporter of basing F35 jets at the Burlington airport. She’s the brains behind “Green Ribbons for the F35,” which foments support for the planes and the Vermont Air National Guard. From the Green Ribbons website:

Tie a Green Ribbon  on a tree in front of your home, on a porch railing, on your mailbox… some place where your neighbors will see you support The Vermont Air National Guard with the basing of the F35 in Burlington, Vermont.

The Green Ribbon campaign began in July of 2012 when Nicole Citro, a South Burlington business owner, felt frustrated with the way the debate over the basing of the F35 in Vermont was being waged.  It seemed all the attention was being given to the very small contingency of those in opposition. Yet all around her, Nicole was finding her friends, families and customers were expressing their support for the new jet.  … Much like the yellow ribbons used to show support for the troops in the Gulf War, Nicole determined green ribbons would be used to show support for the Green Mountain Boys.

Her advocacy won’t win her any points in liberal/progressive circles, but hell, they weren’t voting for a Republican anyway. Not that it matters much; even if she does get the nomination, she’ll be an underfunded unknown getting an extremely late start against established incumbent Jim Condos. And frankly, her credentials for the job seem a bit… er… slim. Here’s some of RecruitFour’s pitch:

We all know Nicole as the woman behind the Green Ribbons for the F35. And isn’t the point of elections, choosing individuals with leadership skills? Well just as Jim=Jobs, Nicole=Leadership. Nicole created a movement out of chaos.

Presently Nicole runs The Citro Agency with her sister. Nicole started at the agency 27 years ago and as with most things, she stays committed. … Let’s have Nicole run the Secretary of State’s office as well as she runs The Citro Agency and the Green Ribbons for the F35!

Um, yeah, well, there’s not much valid comparison there. It’s not even apples to oranges — it’s more like one apple to an orange grove. Managing a family business and launching a smallish grassroots organization is hardly adequate prep for becoming Secretary of State. Nonetheless, I applaud her willingness to step forward.

And, I assume, we can expect two more announcements from RecruitFour in the very near future. Perhaps at some point the organizers will step out from behind their nascent Facebook page and discuss their agenda and their plans to turn the Four into credible candidates rather than placeholders. I’m here if you want to talk, and I’ll give you a fair hearing.

The Progs’ problem child

As I’ve often said before, I have no patience for the petty disputes and long-held grudges that are often a feature of Dem/Prog relations in Vermont. And although there have been minor offenses aplenty on both sides, I think the Democrats have some additional responsibility to be the adult in the room. They’ve been around a lot longer, and they already rule the roost; the Progs are hardly a threat. Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau famously compared US/Canada relations to an elephant and a mouse sharing a bed, and the same can be said of the Dems and the Progs: The Prog mouse can disturb the Dem elephant (instant mixed metaphor, sorry) by accidentally tickling it. The elephant can disturb the mouse by rolling over and crushing it.

That said, there’s a member of the Progs’ statewide ticket who is, inadvertently, doing all he can to annoy the elephant. That would be Ben Eastwood, Prog candidate for Secretary of State.

Yes, the same Ben Eastwood who shot down a motion to endorse Democratic incumbent Jim Condos by calling him a “crony capitalist” because of his former employment by Vermont Gas Systems. Which also, it must be said, gave Eastwood a clear shot at the Prog nomination.

Well, Eastwood has spent the first couple months of his “campaign” barely addressing the office he’s running for, and making often-incendiary comments on his current fixation: the Israeli military action in Gaza. He’s agin’ it, very strongly. And he has a right to express his opinions, but when I look at his Facebook page of message after message about the Middle East, I wonder if he’s really serious about becoming Secretary of State. The last time he mentioned the campaign on his Facebook page was June 12, when he’d just finished collecting petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Yes, I know he’s not going to win and so does he. But if he accepts a party’s nomination for a high office, he should at least present the appearance of engagement.

Beyond that, he’s been picking a fight with a couple of well-known Democrats over on Green Mountain Daily — Dem state committee alternate member Jack McCullough and Montpelier City Clerk John Odum by name. The details of the argument are many, and if you want to follow it, click on the link. The point is, Ben Eastwood, Progressive Party candidate for Secretary of State, is stirring up trouble with Democrats on an issue that has nothing to do with Vermont politics. He should know better, and he should be more responsible.

After all, this is happening at the very time that Dean Corren, Progressive candidate for Lieutenant Governor, is actively seeking Democratic support — and trying to overcome any bruised feelings that might exist from past Prog-to-Dem insults.

Seeking support from, among others, the colleagues and friends of Jack McCullough.

Here’s a tip, Mr. Eastwood. If you accept the honor of a party’s nomination, you assume responsibility for being a public face of your party and fostering your party’s image and prospects. You have a duty to focus on your own campaign and the office you seek, and temporarily stick a sock in it regarding other issues.

Any member of the Democratic state committee would be well within their bounds if, when called upon by Dean Corren, they asked him about his running mate, Ben Eastwood. It’d be perfectly appropriate for any member of the media to ask Corren if he supports Eastwood.

In addition to the trouble Eastwood is stirring up right now, there’s also the problem of his publicly-available record. He is either a vaccine truther or he’s strongly sympathetic with those who believe that vaccines are poison. He’s vehemently opposed to wind power. And he’s given hints of secessionist leanings.

To top it all off, remember the Progressive gubernatorial primary two years ago, when the Progs chose not to run a candidate and anti-wind extremist Annette Smith launched a last-minute write-in bid to secure the Prog nomination? Party stalwart Martha Abbott agreed to put her name up as a write-in, to keep the nomination from falling into Smith’s hands. After all, it would have been harmful to the Progs’ aspirations to have a person with an extreme and non-Prog agenda as the party’s standard bearer.

Well, Eastwood apparently wasn’t aware of Smith’s candidacy until after the fact, but he then wrote “I wish I’d known about Annette Smith’s write in campaign, and I would have written her in…” 

He would have written in Annette Smith over Martha Abbott? In spite of the clear and obvious wishes of his own Progressive Party?

And now, two years later, he gets one of the top spots on the Progressive ticket?

He certainly isn’t treating that honor, nor the office of the Secretary of State, nor the Progressive Party, nor the Democrats, with the respect they deserve. In so doing, he is hurting the Progs’ case to be taken seriously as a fully-formed, mature party capable of governing. Having someone like Eastwood on the statewide ticket makes ’em look more like a larger Liberty Union Party than a convincing alternative to the Democrats.

Serious-minded Progs, the likes of Corren and Chris Pearson, must be desperately hoping that Eastwood’s candidacy comes and goes without doing too much damage to the Progressive brand they are working so hard to create.