Progressive gubernatorial candidate Anthony Pollina is under attack from a group you'd least expect to have it out for him -- the Northeast Organic Farmers Association. Note to fans of political irony: Pollina himself once served on NOFA's board of directors.
Here's what happened. On Wednesday, Pollina put out a statement asserting that Gov. Jim Douglas, or at least his administration's Agriculture Department, was wrongly taking credit for encouraging Vermonters to "buy local" when it came to grocery shopping.
Pollina's statement cited a remark made in "Vermont Harvest" a department publication, that the buy local movement was initiated by Douglas in 2003. "The idea that Jim Douglas started the buy local movement ranks right up there with the idea that Al Gore invented the Internet. It is simply not true," Pollina fumed.
He goes on to tell how he was in on the ground floor of the buy local movement more than 20 years ago and doesn't recall Douglas being a colleague in the cause.
Exactly how Pollina sees this as a front-burner issue in the gubernatorial campaign is a discussion for another day.
Thursday, Enid Wonnacott, NOFA-Vermont's longtime executive director, told PolitickerVt's Zach Silber that Pollina's comments were and "severe exaggeration" and that Douglas and his Ag folks had been "incredibly helpful" in promoting the buy local effort.
Wonnacott agreed that the buy local movement has been around for a long time, but said Douglas deserves credit for having the Ag Dept. institute a Buy Local Program in 2003.
"The Agency of Agriculture has a massive promotional arm that was incredibly helpful," she said. "I understand that this is a political campaign and the goal is to raise conflict, but I see this with a much different message ... I think about how exciting it is and how strong this program is that the governor would want to take credit for it." For PolitickerVt's full post on the matter, click here
Both the Douglas campaign and the Vermont Republican Party have quickly trotted out separate press statements gloating about Wonnacott's rebuff of Pollina. Not exactly a boffo moment for the Progressive, who is having his troubles being heard in the ongoing back-and-forth between Douglas and his Democratic rival, Gaye Symington.
FYI: A word about PolitickerVt, a relatively new kid on the political blog landscape in Vermont. It's a "chain" blog, one of 13 state political blogs owned and operated by the New York Observer around the country.
-- Sam Hemingway