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vt.Buzz ~ a political blog

Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



Drowned out

Larry Drown wants out of the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat and plans to run as an independent instead. He's not happy with the Democrats' support of independent Bernie Sanders.

"In a democracy, the choice of who runs should be left to the people. When a few powerful politicians maneuver to limit that choice - well it just plain isn't right. So I have decided to run as an independent for U.S. Senate so that those Democrats in the center still will have a choice when they go to the polls in November," Drown said in an e-mail.

- Terri Hallenbeck



Pushy polling

Republican House candidate Martha Rainville has been touting her "clean campaign" pledge a lot of the campaign trail this summer, promising to run a non-negative, issues-oriented race for the seat now held by Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Along the way, she's also been getting a tutorial along the way about how all's fair in politics and war. Staffers for Democrat Peter Welch's campaign have been grousing about how Rainville, or interests aligned with her, have been serving up some heavy-handed questions in two recent polls of Vermonters and now they've got the evidence to support their complaint.

Courtesy of the Welch campaign, here's a partial transcript of the kind of questions it was asking in a "poll" done in mid-July. The got it courtesty of one of their more stalwart supporters, Hartford attorney and former prosecutor Scott McGee, was one of those surveyed by the Rainville poll and had the presence of mind to tape the last seven minutes of it.

QUESTION: Peter Welch has accepted campaign contributions from organizations that had to pay more than $21,000 in fines for illegally funneling money poli-sorry, political campaigns ... Would it make you more likely or less likely to vote for him or would it make no difference in your vote?

MCGEE: No difference, I’m going to vote for him.

QUESTION: Peter Welch recently sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock
to Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart, and drug companies like Bristol-Myers and Elie Lilly, profiting from the same companies he now criticizes for charging too much for prescription drugs, outsourcing American jobs and polluting the environment. Would that make you more likely or less likely to vote for him?

MCGEE: More likely, it shows that he had the courage to get rid of that stock, and criticize the companies that he’d invested in. Power to him.

QUESTION: Peter Welch voted against tougher sentences
for criminals convicted for selling drug paraphernalia to minors...Would that make you more likely or less likely to vote for him?

MCGEE: I don’t believe in the drug laws, I think they shouldn’t have them. I
think we’ve made criminals of law-abiding citizens, and we’ve wasted millions of dollars and still are wasting millions ofdollars. So it’d make me much more likely to vote for him.

QUESTION: Special interest lobbyists who have worked for Enron, and now disbanded accounting firm Arthur Andersen, big pharmaceutical companies and oil and gas companies like Exxon, have hosted fundraisers for Peter Welch. Would it make you more likely, less likely or no difference?

MCGEE: No difference.

QUESTION: Peter Welch opposed permitting reforms that would have allowed thousands of IBM jobs to stay in Vermont. More likely, less likely, or no difference.

MCGEE: Well, that’s ... not true, but uh, given this push poll that you’ve been paid to conduct, it makes no difference.

QUESTION: Peter Welch is a trial lawyer who has accepted thousands of dollars in special interest political campaign contributions from other trial lawyers.

MCGEE: Yeah? Well, I’m a trial lawyer, and I support the trial lawyers and I
think they do a great job for America, and I support PeterWelch.

QUESTION: Okay. Peter Welch voted to legalize medicinal marijuana and then
took $500 in campaign contributions from organizations that support marijuana’s legalization.

MCGEE: Terrific, I support that too. I’ve supported it all my life. I’m
delighted to hear that. It makes me far more likely to support Peter.

QUESTION: Even though Peter Welch makes more than $900,000 a year in his
law practice, he recently voted to raise his own pay $10,000.

MCGEE: Well, number one Peter had one good year, that has not been his average
>pay. And number two, it’s really irrelevant what he makes and I don’t know what he voted for but if he voted to give the legislators a pay raise, thank God, they need it. We ought to be paying them a lot more, and then we get rid of the lobbyist influence.

QUESTION: Peter Welch has voted to eliminate our current health care
system and replace it with a government-run system like Canada’s.

MCGEE: Terrific. We need it – our system is busted. People don’t have
coverage. I’m much more likely to vote for him.

-- Sam Hemingway



Progressively growing

We did a story earlier this week on how the Democrats and Republicans are gearing up for all-out election warfare, with larger-than-ever offices, staffs and phone bills. Much of the flurry comes because Vermont is in the extremely rare situation of having no incumbent for either the U.S. House or U.S. Senate seats that are up for vote this year and these are seats that the national parties are keenly interested in. Keen interest translates into cash, and the local Dems and GOP have each received more than $50,000 from national party groups.

The Vermont Progressive Party is not taking part in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate fray, but the party has more candidates than ever for state races - 18 for state House, one for auditor and one for lieutenant governor - and that is translating into more campaign staff.

The party has hired a new full-timer to help coordinate the House campaigns and expects to hire campaign managers for auditor candidate Martha Abbott and lt. gov. candidate Marvin Malek. It will be the first time the party has had four staffers working on elections, party Director Marrisa Caldwell said.

Candidates, she said, will still be hitting the streets themselves, but the staff will take care of some of the administrative work. The party is offering to design candidates' literature, for example.

Progressive candidates also Wednesday said they will hold to the state's 1997 campaign finance law, even though the U.S. Supreme Court tossed much of the law out. That means state House candidates will accept no more than $200 per contributor, Abbott and Malek will accept no more than $400 per person.

"Campaigns should be done over spaghetti dinners and around people's kitchen tables, not through 30-second television ads," Progressive Rep. David Zuckerman of Burlington said.

- Terri Hallenbeck



Worried about a chill

It doesn't seem like a day to worry about cold drafts. I'm sweating at my desk. But John Tracy, one of two Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, says Vermonters are telling him they expect to feel a chill this winter because of the high cost of home heating fuels. Tracy doesn't have a remedy in mind, but he says he thinks state government shouldn't sit on the sidelines and watch a crisis develop. As part of his campaign to promote his leadership skills, he has called on his Democratic colleagues -- House Speaker Gaye Symington and Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Welch -- to convene a summit soon on the looming home heating crisis.
"We stepped up to the plate for farmers," Tracy notes. "Let's not wait until people are having their fuel run out."

-Nancy Remsen


Who is an incumbent?

Incumbency is supposed to be an advantage for a candidate, so it is no wonder that Christopher Pearson, a Progressive candidate in Burlington, was eager to have that designation on the Secretary of State's list of this year's major party candidates -- but he didn't when the list first appeared. Pearson served only a month in the House. He was appointed April 10 to replace Bob Kiss, who resigned after he was elected mayor of Burlington. Three other appointed members of the House had been designated as incumbents -- Rep. Don Turner, R-Milton, who replaced Doran Metzger, Rep. Stephen Dates, R-Shelburne, who replaced George Schiavone and Rep. Joe Acinapura, R-Brandon, who replaced Bob Wood. When Pearson pointed this out to state election officials, his status was quickly changed.

-Nancy Remsen



Rainville ad

Republican congressional candidate Martha Rainville has taped a radio advertisement. She just hasn't aired it yet. First, she's appealing to supporters to help her pay for the ad.

Rainville is taking advantage of last week's indication that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee expects to spend $600,000 on advertising for her Demoractic opponent, Peter Welch, and is asking supporters to help her counter such efforts.

The ad starts with a fictitious banter between men that is meant to mimic Washington politicians at odds. "Aren't you tired of the poisonous bickering in Washington?" Rainville says in the ad. "Both parties attack each other instead of fixing problems important to you. I want to stop that."

Rainville continued to hammer at Welch for not signing her "Clean Campaign Pledge," a promise to foresake negative campaigning and stick to a $1 million limit, "no ifs, ands or excuses."

Welch campaign spokesman Andrew Savage responded this way: "She calls her ad 'No Ifs Ands or Excuses,' but her campaign has been based on excuses. Excuses for not speaking out on issues. Excuses for Donald Rumsfeld. Excuses for being the only candidate to refuse to debate."

Monday afternoon, within an hour of posting the drive on her Web site, the Rainville campaign received its first $25 donation toward the radio ads, campaign spokesman Brendan McKenna said. The campaign has no set amount that must be raised before the ad will appear, he said. It will cost $70 per airing to run the ad, he said.

- Terri Hallenbeck


Election looms over all

U.S. Senate candidate, er, U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders held a news conference this morning to talk about the ongoing fight in Congress over the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

But the focus shifted from hunger to Hezbollah and Hamas, and Rich Tarrant.

Sanders held the Monday morning conference to say that as a result of the ups and downs of funding, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program can now serve 500 more low-income Vermont seniors. He wanted to get the word out that there are more slots available.

Sanders had previously held a news conference to say there was a battle in Washington over the funding, which the Bush Administration proposed slashing.

One veteran political columnist questioned why, then, was Sanders talking about the food program again. Could it be ... an election year?

Other questions posed to Sanders: What should the United States’ role be in the Israel-Lebanon situation? Are we going to see Sanders and Republican Senate hopeful Rich Tarrant together? Who are you voting for in the Republican primary?

Sanders’ answers: the U.S. has been distracted with Iraq and should have been paying more attention to Hezbollah. Maybe then the situation wouldn’t have deteriorated quite so far. Yes, Sanders plans to debate Tarrant, and he’s looking forward to it. On the primary? A hearty laugh.

And on whether this is an election year? Sanders didn’t need to answer.

—Sky Barsch



Clouded out

Vermonters who had hoped to see U.S. Sen. John McCain - the Arizona Republican who would have easily won the party's 2000 presidential nomination if Vermont had been the only state voting - came away McCainless on Saturday.

After several spins around the Rutland State Airport, McCain's plane gave up and motored off. The cloud cover was just too low. Albert Knotte, who runs Columbia Air Service at the airport and was on the ground trying to greet McCain's plane, said visibility was too poor. From the ground, he barely caught a glimpse of the plane through the clouds.

Ironically, it was the decision to hold the event in Rutland that likely cost the visit. Congressional candidate Martha Rainville, for whom McCain was coming to campaign, wanted to have it in a more central location than Chittenden County. McCain, however, likely could have landed at the larger Burlington airport.

McCain might be back, though, before this campaign is done.

- Terri Hallenbeck



Democrats beef up ammo

Some 15-20 Democratic candidates for positions ranging from state Senate to state's attorney formed a semi-circle in the atrium of the new Lake & College building near the waterfront in Burlington. They'd come to talk up their vision for the state and to criticize the Republican governor.

I happened to have a few minutes to spare and it was just down the street from our office. It doesn't take much to encourage me to take a walk down toward the lake on a sunny summer day. They were pretty relieved to see me because I was the only member of the media who showed for this press conference and it's awfully hard to have a press conference without the press.

My first question was what they would be doing there in that room, equipped with a podium and flags, if I had not shown. Going out for coffee, Sen. Jim Condos quipped.

Never mind the attendance, though, this event was a sign of how Democrats are doing business this election season. In recent months, the party has beefed up its communications squadron, with the addition of Andy Bouska as communications director and Bill Lofy, who had a run first as House Speaker Gaye Symington's communications guy during the legislative session and is now the party's coordinated campaign director.

Earlier this week, Symington and Senate Majority Leader John Campbell held a news conference in Montpelier to stress that property taxes will be their priority next year, pending the voters' approval. They came out swinging at Gov. Jim Douglas and the Republicans. Pointing to Douglas' "Agenda of Affordability," Campbell asked "affordability for whom?" Not for ordinary Vermoters with rising health-care costs, property taxes and electric rates, he charged.

Wednesday, Chittenden County incumbent legislators and a few newcomer candidates pushed the same message, augmented with some spice of their own. Sen. Ginny Lyons said she had to fight the administration over energy-efficiency standards. Rep. Johanna Donovan spoke of fighting for more money for affordable housing. The gist of their message: Douglas lacks a long-term vision.

The Republicans, of course, have another point of view on the matter. They are the party that saved Vermonters from an increase in the gas tax, that proposed the idea of college scholarships and had to push the Legislature on the issue, and that tried to protect the public from violent offenders with the civil confinement of untreated offenders, party Chairman Jim Barnett said.

These will be the arguments launched back and forth between the parties over the next four months. One thing is clear, though. The Democrats are coordinating their message and they have loaded their guns for combat against the Republicans. "We are tired of the pot shots," Condos said.

Lofy, who's now helping coordinate the Democratic message, said it's not as though the party's candidates will always be speaking with one voice. "To say it's like herding cats is an understatement," he said.

- Terri Hallenbeck


Hey, neighbor

It's not exactly John Tracy's neighborhood, but it's not far. Matt Dunne, who along with Tracy is seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, will be at the Champlain Street Park between King and Maple streets Saturday for a clean-up. He plans to converge volunteers on the park, then have a barbecue and a door-knocking session.
- Terri Hallenbeck



Reality is so rarely as interesting as the speculation. Speculation among more veteran Vermont bloggers is that we here on vt.Buzz are unwilling to post links to other sites. The theory is that we have a corporate policy against it.

Well, out here in the newsroom, here's the reality:

Because I am a blogger, some might assume I am a hip, hep-cat, cutting-edge kind of gal who invents urls and does a little ftp and html in her sleep. Ahh, no. I don't really know what those terms are. I am a technological plodder. Not exactly a tyranasaurus rex because, after all, I was willing to take the big step from the print-on-paper world into the ephemeral ideas-in-air blogosphere. But if you liken my tech skills to learning to ride a bike, I am wobbling down the street, just having left my mother's outstretched arms, and, if I am lucky, I will find some grass in time for me to stop so I don't splat onto concrete.

Fear not, though, I eventually learned how to stop a bike without having to fall on the grass. So it is with blogging. Having learned that my cut-and-paste method of adding a link was insufficient -- that real bloggers can't bear to be slowed down by such simplistic 20th-century methods -- I have applied myself.

So here it is, my inaugural attempt at a real link. I don't know if the bike will crash, but here goes. You can read about speculation as to why I am unwilling to put links on our blog by clicking here.

-- Terri Hallenbeck



You can't keep Neale Lunderville out of Vermont, as it turns out. The affable, ambitious aide to the governor went off to Boston in search of big corporate bucks, and stayed away barely two months. He'll be back as transportation secretary, in place of Dawn Terrill, who is stepping down to start her own business, the Associated Press is reporting.
- Terri Hallenbeck




About that Sanders campaign door knocker without the box around the disclaimer? Spokesman Paul Hortenstine said today that new ones have been ordered, with the box.

And the Sanders campaign came up with a Tarrant postcard that invites people to a Bristol pizza party, but has no disclaimer at all. Tarrant campaign manager Tim Lennon said the error has been caught and will be corrected.

Now that we know both campaigns are scouring each other's every move and mailing, perhaps we can all play by the rules and move on to more substantive issues.

- Terri Hallenbeck


This fall's lineup

It seems that just about all of Vermont's perennial candidates for some office or another have their sights set on the U.S. Senate this year. The U.S. House seat attracted none of the same interest - only Republicans Martha Rainville and Mark Shepard and Democrat Peter Welch filed for that race.

Monday's candidate filing deadline revealed this string of candidates for U.S. Senate:

- Peter Diamondstone of Brattleboro, Liberty Union
- Larry Drown of Northfield, Democrat
- Cris Ericson of Chester, Republican
- Craig Hill of Montpelier, Democrat
- Peter Moss of Fairfax, Democrat
- Greg Parke of Rutland, Republican
- Bernie Sanders of Burlington, Democrat (yes, that's right, Democrat - see today's Free Press for story)
- Rich Tarrant of Colchester, Republican
- Louis Thabault of South Burlington, Democrat

Chittenden Senate
Fifteen candidates have lined up for a stab at Chittenden County's six Senate seats, including all the incumbents except Jim Leddy, who declared his retirement in the wake of last session's health-care reform agreement.

Ed Flanagan wasn't scared off by his car accident and Hinda Miller wasn't scared off by her loss in the Burlington mayoral race in March.

Here the list:

Democrats: Jim Condos, Ed Flanagan, Ginny Lyons, Dennis McMahon, Hinda Miller, Tim Palmer, Doug Racine, Sean Starfighter.

Republicans: Darren Adams, Agnes Clift, J. Dennis Delaney, Chuck Furtado, Robert Sims, Diane Snelling, John Stewart.

- Terri Hallenbeck



Boxing match

U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign has a door hanger that volunteers put on doors when they find nobody home. It features a photo of Sanders, verbiage railing against jobs going to China, cuts in education and veterans benefits and the privatization of Social Security. It also has a coupon offering a chance to contribute to Sanders’ campaign.

In between the verbiage and the coupon is the requisite disclaimer: “Paid for by Sanders for Senate, P.O. Box 391, Burlington, VT 05402.” There’s just one thing missing. The Federal Election Commission requires that disclaimer to be boxed.

Here are the FEC’s rules on that:
“On printed materials, the disclaimer notice must appear within a printed box set apart from the other contents in the communication. The print must be of a sufficient type-size to be clearly readable by the recipient of the communication, and the print must have a reasonable degree of color contrast between the background and the printed statement.

See the rule here: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/notices.shtml.

Tim Lennon, campaign manager for Sanders’ opponent, Republican Rich Tarrant, brought the indiscretion to our attention. He said he's not sure whether he will file a complaint about it to the FEC - that depends on the Sanders campaign's reaction.

Sanders spokesman Paul Hortenstine said the door hangers have been out about a month and he didn’t know how many more there were or whether they would continue to be used. “Is it a big deal? No,” Hortenstine said.

Consequences for not boxing one's disclaimer could ultimately mean a civil fine, but that would depend on the circumstances, according to the FEC. The agency would take into consideration how visible the disclaimer is, how pervasively the item was used and how the error happened. First, though, someone would have to file a complaint.

In this case, if the Tarrant campaign files a complaint, the Sanders campaign might be close on its heels with complaints about the unauthorized use of video in Web ads, for starters.

For now, how about having a volunteer take a fine-point pen to those door hangers and putting a box around that disclaimer?

- Terri Hallenbeck


Parke update

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Greg Parke has sent an update to his Federal Election Commission campaign finance filing. He has raised $1.37 million and spent $1.33 million. He has more money left on hand - $64,394 - than the initial filing indicated because of income that hadn't been counted.
_ Terri Hallenbeck



Shepard losing flock

Republican congressional candidate Mark Shepard's Federal Election Commission filing, which is due tomorrow, isn't in yet, but here's an indication that the finances aren't flowing.

Shepard's new campaign manager Paul Cook says he is in his last week with the campaign. Not enough money to pay him and he can't afford to work for free. Cook, who teaches political science at Community College of Vermont, took over just a couple weeks ago from Guy Page.

- Terri Hallenbeck



McCain coming for Martha

Republican congressional candidate Martha Rainville landed a visit by U.S. Sen. John McCain.

The Arizona senator will be in Vermont on Saturday, July 22 for a town-meeting-style appearance with Rainville. Unlike first lady Laura Bush's fund-raising visit for Rainville, McCain's visit will feature a free and open to the public event, at a location to be determined. Vermonters will be able to ask McCain and Rainville questions, Rainville spokesman Brendan McKenna said.

McCain last visited Vermont in 1999, where as a presidential candidate he attracted a crowd of about 500 to Burlington City Hall for a town-meeting-style event.

As far as national Republicans go, this is about as palatable a one as you can find for Vermonters. Given McCain's emphasis on campaign finance reform, this also allows Rainville another chance to trumpet her "clean campaign pledge."

- Terri Hallenbeck


Congressional "jury duty"

Dennis Morrisseau, who now plans to be an independent candidate for U.S. House instead of seeking the Republican nomination, has a proposal for changing the way we elect our representatives to Washington.

Morrisseau called for a constitutional amendment that would replace "money-based elections" with "a kind of jury drawing."

"I think these seats in Congress should be filled by ordinary, decent citizens whose names are drawn randomly from voter checklists, the same way we draw juries. One or two terms of congressional duty at a very decent salary, with very harsh criminal sanctions for bribery in any form, then out you go," he said.

Picture the average worker, leaving his or her desk at the office for a two-year leave of absence to do the work of the people. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is replaced by "Joe, the guy down the hall, goes to Washington."

That's one idea. Anybody else got others?

- Terri Hallenbeck



Conversation chaos

The "Sunday Conversations on the Green" could get interesting. Republican Senate candidate Rich Tarrant says he will show up for them whether opponent Bernie Sanders does or not.

Immediately, that generates a picture of Tarrant trying to climb onto a bandstand in the middle of small-town Vermont, while Peter Welch and Mark Shepard are busy talking about health care, trying to pretend that Martha Rainville isn't in the race and that Tarrant isn't standing there. Chaos comes to mind.

Tarrant's campaign said, however, that he will conduct his conversations after the Welch-Shepard discourse. He won't make the first conversation, which is this Sunday in Castleton. He plans to attend the July 23 Bellows Falls event, July 30 in Craftsbury Common and Aug. 6 in Bristol.

- Terri Hallenbeck


Secretary of State race

Cheryl Moomey, Essex town clerk and treasurer, will announce her candidacy for secretary of state Thursday. Moomey, a Republican, has scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference in Montpelier.

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, a Democrat, has proven tough to beat since taking office in 1998. She faced no opposition two years ago _ she took 99.3 percent of the vote. Four years ago, she beat Republican Mike Bertrand, who is now deputy secretary of administration, 58.8-37.1 perent. In 2000, she bested then-Republican Larry Drown, 61.2-36.5 percent. She beat Republican Jim Milne in 1998, 47.8-45.2 percent.

Moomey has been critical of same-day voter registration, a change in Vermont elections that Markowitz has generally supported and has strongly been pushed by the Progressive Party.

_ Terri Hallenbeck


Conversations spreading

Just in case you thought all Republican candidates or all Democratic candidates were in lock-step, here is proof they’re not.

Republican Senate candidate Rich Tarrant proposed that he and his opponent, independent-but-Democratically-supported Bernie Sanders, join House candidates Peter Welch and Mark Shepard for their “Sunday Conversations on the Green.”

These are the same conversations on the green that Republican Martha Rainville said she doesn’t want to join because she’s focused on her primary campaign with Shepard.

Tarrant and Sanders would be welcome, Welch campaign manager Carolyn Dwyer said. But not for all-candidates-at-once discussion. Better to keep them separate, she said, as some voters are having a hard enough time keeping the two races separate.

No word yet from Sanders' campaign, but here's guessing the answer will be no.

— Terri Hallenbeck


Republicans reach out

The Vermont Republican Party will hold four meeting throughout the state to hear what Vermonters think should be in the party’s 2006 platform. There’s not much notice before the first one Friday evening. Here’s the schedule:
- Lyndonville Public Safety Building, U.S. 5, 6 p.m. Friday, July 14
- Rutland GOP office, 10 Merchants Row, 7 p.m. July 19
- Springfield Selectman’s Hall, 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 26
- Williston, GOP office, 6 p.m., 72 Helena Drive, Suite 210.
- Terri Hallenbeck 


Morrisseau move

When Dennis Morrisseau appeared before the Republican state convention seeking delegates support this spring, he declared to the gathering that he did not believe in a higher power. Some delegates stood and turned their backs to him. When he got off the stage and stuck out his hand to greet one delegate, the man told him, "I'm not shaking your hand. You're at the wrong convention, buddy."

Well, today that man will get his wish. Morrisseau is announcing that he's opting out of the Republican primary for the U.S. House. The former owner of Leunig's Restaurant in Burlington who's now a retired anti-war activist in West Pawlet, will run instead as an independent.

_ Terri Hallenbeck



Ethical warfare

Republican congressional candidate Martha Rainville called Tuesday for the creation of a special ethics office to oversee Congress, a ban on gifts to members of Congress, including trips, and a two-year delay before members or their staff can become lobbyists.

Her Democratic opponent, Peter Welch, countered that he had proposed similar restrictions back in May. In a May 4 news release, Welch called for a ban on lobbyist-funded trips and increased disclosure of lobbying.

Rainville, the recently retired head of the Vermont National Guard, leaned on her military background and said a new ethics office should be modeled after the Inspector General's Office the Guard has. The office would investigate ethical complaints in a more un-partisan way than the current congressional ethics committees do, she said.

"That's not been effective," she said.

- Terri Hallenbeck



Campaigns, lies and videotapes

U.S. Senate candidate Rich Tarrant posted his fourth Web ad today (http://www.tarrant06.com/media/). These are ads that are posted on the Tarrant campaign Web site and e-mailed to supporters.

This one accuses Tarrant’s opponent, Bernie Sanders, of lying.

The ad shows a video of Sanders (this one was filmed by the Tarrant campaign last year, campaign manager Tim Lennon said, in contrast to the inappropriately used Channel 17 video in a previous Web ad that has since been withdrawn). The congressman tells the audience that he lied to President Clinton about his support of a piece of legislation so that he could get access to him in the White House.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said of the lie, “It’s up there with telling your date her dress looks nice.”

The ad then declares that Sanders sponsored 165 bills in his 16 years in the U.S. House, and just one passed.

Lennon said he has no standard in mind for how many bills a member of Congress should sponsor or pass, but that this is proof of Sanders’ ineffectiveness. “He’s clearly at the bottom of the barrel of getting things done in Washington,” Lennon said.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the ad ignores the large number of amendments Sanders has introduced, which are equally effective in getting things done. Under the Republican-controlled Congress of the last decade, Weaver said, “No member of Congress has passed more amendments on the floor than Congressman Bernie Sanders.”

He pointed to the MILC legislation for dairy farmers and legislation dictating that veterans be told what benefits they are eligible for as examples.

_ Terri Hallenbeck


Picture this

Caution, dear reader. This item could make you feel a little like you’re supervising a playground.

U.S. Senate candidates Bernie Sanders and Rich Tarrant had a quick, terse exchange of letters today over who was videotaping whom.

Sanders to Tarrant: “This past Saturday, I held a campaign meeting in Swanton. I frankly was shocked and disgusted to learn that your campaign was video taping Vermont who came to that meeting.” Sanders called it voter intimidation.

Tarrant’s response: “Contrary to your charge, our campaign did no actual filming on Saturday.” His supporters were at the event in Swanton, campaign manager Tim Lennon said, trying to urge Sanders to return a campaign contribution from a Florida sugar company.

Tarrant’s campaign had a video camera set up outside the event, but only to film Sanders himself, Lennon said. Since Sanders was inside, the camera wasn’t running.

Lennon came back with an accusation of his own: “Your campaign has been filing and following Rich at every parade,” he said in the letter to Sanders.

Sanders campaign spokesman Paul Hortenstine denied that. “We have followed him but we have never videotaped him,” he said.

Lennon said in his letter, “Our campaign will continue to film you at public events.”

Now, playground supervisors, what should the rules be here? Should they be prohibited from videotaping within 30 minutes of eating? Only after they've done their chores?
— Terri Hallenbeck


While we were away

It’s not that the thousands of little political tidbits that went on last week weren’t worthy of mentioning. It’s just that the lure of lakeside living took precedence. While candidates were sweating their way through parades I was gliding through the water in a kayak. I know, silly priorities.

Near as I can gather from a cursory look through the scads of e-mails I received, here are some of the highlights of what happened last week:

Party masters:
Libertarian Party Chairman Hardy Machia noted that he joined Howard Dean on the list of Vermonters serving on national political parties' executive committees. Machia was elected to be regional representative to the Libertarian National Committee.

Jobs aplenty:
Peter Welch promised to help bring more and better jobs to Vermont. His congressional campaign opponent, Martha Rainville, said she too would bring more and better jobs to the state. This also is a cornerstone of Mark Shepard’s campaign. One way or another, we are in for a lot of really good jobs.

House campaign strategy:
Rainville hauled out her Clean Campaign Pledge in the form of index cards that voters were asked to sign over the Fourth of July holiday, which she can’t get Welch to sign. Rainville campaign spokesman Brendan McKenna said the campaign handed out a couple thousand and will continue to do so at future events.
Welch and Shepard, meanwhile, went ahead with their “Conversations on the Green” without Rainville. They are scheduled for 7 p.m. July 16 in Castleton, July 23 in Bellows Falls, July 30 in Craftsbury Common and Aug. 6 in Bristol. Rainville will not be attending.
Rainville has several Republican-primary-only debates scheduled for later in the season. They are: 9 a.m. Aug. 22 at Channel 17 in Burlington; 4 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Johnson State College library; 7 p.m. Sept. 5 on Vermont Public Radio’s “Switchboard.”

Democratic friends:
Bernie Sanders has his eyes on a contribution from PAC for Change, which is asking people to vote online for which Senate candidate from among 16 across the nation should receive the PAC’s help. Sanders is the only independent among them and the intro to the contest specifically says, “I want to invite you to choose which promising Democratic challenger for the Senate that we’re going to support next.”
Speaking of which, the Vermont Democratic Party is drumming up signatures to land Sanders’ name on the ballot on the Democratic line, along with his usual independent line. Party Chairman Ian Carleton says it is a way of demonstrating broad and enthusiastic support. Even though Sanders is expected to decline the ballot line, and someone else — someone who the party doesn’t even want — will take that space and the inevitable lump of votes it will attract.

Kicking off:
Progressive Martha Abbott kicked off her auditor campaign Friday evening in Burlington under the theme “Where’s the auditor?” She says the auditor’s office should be scrutinizing whether tax credits to firms such as IDX Corp. yield the promised jobs.
A day later, Sen. Ed Flanagan announced he will run for re-election — seeking one of six Senate seats representing Chittenden County — despite his intense road to recovery after his nearly fatal November car crash. Voters will undoubtedly be awestruck by his perseverance. They will also have questions about his health. They have a right to know whether those they send to Montpelier to represent them are fully capable of attending.
Matt Dunne will kick off his campaign for lieutenant governor with a series of volunteering gigs around the state Tuesday. He figures it will take about an hour to clean up Leddy Park in Burlington starting at 6:30 p.m.
— Terri Hallenbeck



The new Vermont politics

The Web site TarrantSucks.com is for sale, according to a July 2 posting on Vermont Craiglist, an online network that offers free classified advertisements.

The ad, which is posted in the "barter" section, says the owner "will trade for something you have that I want."

The Web site currently links to "Welcome to Kyla_Cam.com!!!," which features pornographic photographs of men and women. The ad says the buyer can "point" the site to the Web site of his or her choice.

According to anonymous e-mail correspondence with the person who posted the advertisement, $500 has been offered for the site. However, the alleged Web site owner said he or she refused the offer because it’s not high enough. "I'm thinking that with Tarrant's $ that increases the value of the address?" the e-mail read.

"I had an offer to buy, but the offer was far too low," according to the e-mail. "After all it cost me $4.95 to register the name, and another $15.00 to hide my personal information. So an offer of $500 seems a little low to me."

The Craigslist advertisement for sale of TarrantSucks.com is listed among other ads requesting trade for firewood, reflexology, a box of Playboy magazines and "GOOD homecooked meals."

This, by the way, is not the first time the domain TarrantSucks.com has entered the blogosphere. In the first of May, the domain name appeared, purportedly with a link to the site of Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is running for U.S. Senate in Vermont against Richard Tarrant, a businessman candidate vying for the GOP nomination.

Tarrant's campaign cried foul. Sanders' campaign struck back. And away it went....

For more, check this: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/4/84930/31185
-- Ashley Matthews



Fuzzy line

One way to get a sense of a campaign is to look at where and how the candidate campaigns. It's still early in the campaign season, so many calendars are skimpy, but when you look at the calendar for the Gov. Jim Douglas campaign, you are directed to check his official schedule. The link is provided.

Whoa. That fuzzes the line between official duties and running for re-election, don't you think? When asked that question, Dennise Casey, campaign manager, replied, "The reason we would put that up there is so the greatest number of people learn more about the governor. We want to make sure folks have an opportunity to hear the governor."

Casey promises campaign events will eventually be listed on the Web site, too.

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