What Will the State Senate Be In 2025?
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
1d ago
Time for some way-too-early speculation about what kind of state Senate we will have in the new biennium. To date, Sens. Jane Kitchel, Bobby Starr, Dick McCormack and Brian Campion have announced they are not seeking re-election. Sen. Dick Mazza resigned last month for health reasons, which brings us to five senior solons — in terms of lifespan and/or tenure — who won’t be there next January. Disclaimer: The following post is based entirely on my own observations. There is not a lick of insider information at play. I do NOT have sources in Senate leadership. By my math, the five retirees have ..read more
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When She Was Good, She Was Very, Very Good…
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
4d ago
Amongst all the encomiums that accompanied Sen. Jane Kitchel’s retirement announcement (“most influential legislator,” “tireless work ethic,” “encyclopedic” knowledge of state government and, of course, “legendary“), this comment from Senate President Pro Tem Phil Baruth stuck out at me: “I have adopted a two-word mantra as President Pro Tem, and it has served me well: ‘Ask Jane.’” To which my first thought was, “Well, there’s your problem.” It’s not that Kitchel doesn’t deserve praise on her way out the door. She has served the state for a long time with notable distinction. It will, indee ..read more
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So What Did Howard Dean Mean by “Scorched Earth”? (Updated With MORE Phil Scott Fails)
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
4d ago
On Monday, former governor Howard Dean ended his brief dalliance with running against Gov. Phil Scott by explaining that his only path to victory was “a scorched earth, negative attack campaign” out of character with Vermont politics, and that he refused to be the one to inject our system with that kind of vitriol. Okay, well, at the time it seemed like a hollow, self-serving rationale — more acceptable to a politician’s ego than “The polls showed me way behind” or “I found out I couldn’t raise enough money” or maybe even “Turns out half of Vermont doesn’t even remember me.” But the more I th ..read more
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Dean Leaves Dems at the Altar (UPDATED With Another Skedaddle)
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
1w ago
The curtain came down on Howard Dean’s Hamlet act this morning. After a few weeks of something approaching suspense, Dean announced he would not run for governor. And now here we are, 10 days away from the filing deadline for major party candidates and the only Democrat in the race is Esther Charlestin, who is (1) almost entirely unknown, (2) has never run for public office, and (3) has shown no signs at all of mounting a serious campaign. Not even an underfunded, scrappy effort like those of the last three Democratic candidates for governor. Former Burlington mayor Miro Weinberger is still p ..read more
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Outta Nowhere
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
1w ago
Political surprise of the week: This guy taking on an incumbent statewide officeholder. Guy in question is Thomas Renner, deputy mayor of Winooski and newly declared candidate for lieutenant governor. You know, the office currently occupied by David Zuckerman? Yep, that one. My initial reaction involved the letters W, T, and F. I mean, he’s 34, he’s held office in the ‘Ski for only three years, has never run anywhere else, and he’s getting a late start. The primary is on August 13, but early voting will begin in about six weeks. Zuckerman, meanwhile, is arguably Vermont’s most successful stat ..read more
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Howard Dean Needs to Make a Decision
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
1w ago
So I went looking for an image of Howard Dean for this post, and I came across the absolutely perfect specimen: A seven-year-old segment of “Morning Joe” entitled “Howard Dean: Baby Boomers Need To Get Out Of Way Of Young Leaders.” And wearing a Grandpa sweater as he said it: The baby boomers have got to get out of the way. It’s my generation. I’m happy to advise. I don’t think that we need to be in the forefront anymore. Maybe the 75-year-old Dean should listen to his 68-year-old self. Or maybe not, I have mixed feelings. But he needs to make a move one way or the other, because the days u ..read more
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The City of Montpelier Needs a Lot Less of This
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
1w ago
Montpelier is in the beginning stages of a social and economic shift, and the city will have to make some significant changes if it wants to take advantage of emerging opportunities and avoid being left in the dust. The evidence is outlined in a pair of recent stories by Phil Dodd in The Bridge, the city’s twice-monthly free newspaper. The first, published in mid-April, recounts the struggles of downtown merchants due to a dramatic drop in foot traffic. The second, posted on May 7, describes a “weak” market for downtown office space. The root cause is a significant increase in remote working ..read more
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Final Reading Needs an Attitude Adjustment
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
1w ago
Now that the legislative session (minus override day) is in the rearview, it’s time to address Final Reading, VTDigger’s self-described “inside guide to the Statehouse.” That might be technically accurate, but it was the glossy, gossipy kind of “inside guide,” not the kind that provides insight. More often than not, it failed to dig beneath the surface. Instead, it picked up shiny trinkets and held them aloft as if proffering precious gems. I could enumerate, and I will. But I need to emphasize, up front, that there’s nothing inherently wrong with snark or cynicism or the occasional eyeroll o ..read more
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Congratulations to the VTGOP for Finding a Candidate to Run Against Becca Bal — Oh.
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
2w ago
The Vermont Republican Party’s effort to build a strong statewide ticket are proceeding apace. Mark Coester, who has once before been disavowed by the VTGOP, has announced he’s running for Congress. He is, so far, the only Republican challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Becca Balint. Coester is seen here in the only video that comes up when you search YouTube for “Mark Coester Vermont.” It’s a 21-second clip of Coester meandering along the U.S.-Mexico border wall, pausing in front of a small section that’s either unfinished or damaged, gesturing at it, and saying “Ran out of concrete?” He’s car ..read more
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I Think I Know Why This Man Is Smiling
The Vermont Political Observer
by John S. Walters
2w ago
For all of Gov. Phil Scott’s tough talk about the budget and how tight we’ve got to be with our money, you might not guess that he and his top officials are due to get some very healthy raises in the new fiscal year. The Pay Act, H.889, has been floating serenely through the Legislature to little to no public notice. The House has passed it, and I don’t doubt the Senate will follow along before adjournment. I hadn’t heard a peep about it until Sen. Tanya Vyhovsky tweeted this the other day: Yep, that’s right, 6.4% pay raises for the governor and all his appointees. To be fair (if only for a ..read more
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