Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

NOTE: Blurt has been retired and is no longer updated regularly. For new content, follow these links:

OFF MESSAGE: Vermont News and Politics
BITE CLUB: Food and Drink Blog
ARTS AND MOVIES NEWS: Updated at sevendaysvt.com

52 posts categorized "Election 2012"

August 30, 2012

Super PAC Hits Super PAC for Super PAC-ing

Stannard

Demonstrating an apparent dearth of self-awareness, a Vermont-based "super-PAC" whose creation opened the door for super PACs to operate in Vermont released a statement Thursday decrying the influence of an out-of-state super PAC in Tuesday's primary election — and using the situation to justify its own existence.

Got it? Didn't think so. Let me take you back.

Six weeks ago, a liberal advocacy group called Vermont Priorities announced it was launching Vermont's first home-grown super PAC, allowing it to raise and spend unlimited funds on state elections. Why? Because the folks behind it — Vermont Priorities chairman Bob Stannard (pictured) and the group's consultant, KSE's Todd Bailey — were greatly a-feared that big, bad out-of-state super PACs would get all up in Vermont's otherwise pure elections.

By starting their own, way more awesome super PAC, Stannard and Bailey reasoned, they'd be ready to do battle with Karl Rove and the dreaded Koch brothers when those dudes inevitably came to town. Meanwhile, without all those pesky campaign finance restrictions, Vermont Priorities would able to raise and spend as much as they liked to elect their fellow liberals to office!

Click here to continue reading on Off Message, our new politics blog.

August 29, 2012

After Primary Cliffhanger, Sorrell Pivots to Republican Opponent

DSC04153After a late-night cliffhanger of a primary, Democratic Attorney General Bill Sorrell on Tuesday launched the next phase of his bid to keep his job: a general election fight against Republican businessman Jack McMullen.

"I do have a tough race and it's going to be so great to not have it be a primary, because there are very real differences between myself and my Republican opponent," Sorrell told a rowdy crowd of Democrats at a party unity rally staged at Burlington's Main Street Landing.

"For one, I'm admitted to the bar and can practice law in the courts of this state and he can't. He's wealthy; I'm not. He thinks we should drop the Vermont Yankee — the Entergy — appeal. There's no way we're going to do that," Sorrell said. "He thinks our food labeling laws are bad for business. I think they're good for consumers, and I'm going to uphold and enforce those laws."

Sorrell's pivot to the general election came just an hour and a half after Democratic challenger T.J. Donovan conceded to Sorrell by phone, admitting that he'd narrowly lost a rare, intra-party fight against the 15-year incumbent.

Click here to continue reading this post on Off Message, our new politics blog.

Results from Vermont's Other Big Primary Match-Ups

The attorney general race is getting most of the attention on the morning after Vermont's 2012 primary, but as Paul Heintz wrote about in his Fair Game column on August 8, there were plenty of other interesting races dotting the state's voting landscape. Here's a roundup of some other notable results:

Governor - Progressive

First, the statewide races: Martha Abbott was the only announced candidate for governor in the Progressive Party primary, and it was expected that she would drop out of the race so as not to siphon away too many left-wing votes from Gov. Peter Shumlin. But some of Shumlin's most vehement detractors mounted a write-in campaign to nominate activist Annette Smith for the Progs.

See the rest of the results — with helpful charts and graphs — on Off Message.

Sorrell Clings to Thin Lead in Attorney General Primary; Race Too Close to Call

TJ and wife

UPDATE, 8/29 at 10:00 a.m.: T.J. Donovan says he'll likely concede the race this morning. For the latest updates, stay tuned to our new politics blog, Off Message.

This story was reported by Paul Heintz, Tyler Machado and Andy Bromage

For weeks, the Democratic contest for attorney general seemed too close — and too unusual — to predict. Tuesday night brought no swift resolution.

At the end of primary night — with 245 of 258 precincts reporting — Attorney General Bill Sorrell held a narrow 619-vote lead over challenger T.J. Donovan, according to the Associated Press. But with more than 40,000 voters casting ballots, neither campaign seemed fully prepared to declare victory — or defeat. 

“This has been a really long six months and I’ve said several times this is more a marathon than a sprint,” Sorrell told a crowd of supporters at Burlington’s Courtyard Marriott after emerging for the first time at 10:15 p.m. “We’ve got about a mile or so more to run, and I’m feeling great.”

SorrellStanding beside a screen projecting the night’s promising but uncertain results, Sorrell said, “We’ve got a while to wait, but that’s okay. Because between being 600 or so votes up and 600 or so votes down, I choose option A.”

Greeting supporters next door at the Burlington Hilton, Donovan told Seven Days that with a dozen precincts left to report, he “owed it to everybody to see what the votes are.”

But Donovan did not sound hopeful he would pull out a win.

"It's gonna be tough," he said, adding that he would be “unlikely” to call for a recount — as a candidate within two percent of a winner is entitled to do  — given the apparent size of Sorrell’s lead. "We've worked hard and I want to see this thing through. Somebody had us down 20 points a week ago.”

The AG's primary was the most expensive for that office in state history and the first competitive race for Vermont's top law enforcement job since Sorrell took office in 1997. Buoyed by $184,000 in super PAC advertising, Sorrell may well have fended off a challenge from an ambitious and well-organized young challenger who relentlessly hammered Sorrell's 15-year record during the five-month campaign.

For the second time in two years, Democrats faced the prospect of converging for a pre-scheduled "unity rally" on Wednesday with no clear winner. And with Republican AG candidate Jack McMullen waiting in the wings, Dems will be anxious to put the primary behind them and get the general election started.

Continue reading "Sorrell Clings to Thin Lead in Attorney General Primary; Race Too Close to Call" »

August 28, 2012

Tonight: Vermont Primary Election Results and Live Chat

250-voteHappy primary day, Vermont! Can you smell the democracy in the air?

Per Seven Days tradition, we'll be running a live blog and chat with our reporters and readers tonight, starting at 6 p.m. and going until...late. Paul Heintz and Andy Bromage will be out in the field, and we invite you to stop by and tell them about the big election day news in your town. I'll be back at 7D headquarters gathering the latest updates. We'll post results of the contentious races, including the big Democratic attorney general race, as we get them. Click here to go to our Vermont primary election page.

Haven't voted yet? Polls close at 7 p.m. tonight. Here's a list of polling places from the Secretary of State's office. If you still haven't decided who to vote for, you're not alone. In the Sorrell vs. Donovan battle, check out Andy Bromage's piece on the race, and take another look at their August 15 debate. Paul Heintz spotlighted some of the other big primary races in his Fair Game column a few weeks ago.

We'll see you tonight at 6 p.m. Until then, let us know how turnout is in your town and what your neighbors are talking about in the comments.

August 24, 2012

Hot Off the Press: Newspapers Back Donovan for AG

TJ endorsement

Updated below: Donovan racks up another newspaper endorsement.

In the closing days of the race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, newspaper endorsements are steadily trickling in. And, as with endorsements from politicians not named Howard Dean, Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan appears to be cleaning up.

Last Friday the Stowe Reporter and Waterbury Record, which are both owned by Biddle Duke, weighed in — arguing that Donovan has "innovative ideas... and the leadership skills to put those ideas to work." Sorrell, the papers' editorial board wrote, "has appeared distant and remote — at least until he faced a real challenger."

On Wednesday, St. Albans Messenger publisher Emerson Lynn used the "R" word as well to describe the incumbent AG: "Mr. Sorrell's extended tenure has made him more remote, less approachable. He's lost that personal connection that Mr. Donovan would restore." Sorrell's challenger, Lynn wrote, "is capable of communicating at a level that will benefit Vermonters directly. He is one among us and looks at problems at a community level, which is where he lives and works."

Lynn followed up Thursday with another, more pointed editorial — this one arguing that by waging a fight at the U.S. Supreme Court to limit the influence of money in politics and then accepting nearly $200,000 in support from a "super PAC," Sorrell was being a tad inconsistent: "But isn't it hypocritical to argue against the influence of big money in Vermont politics, and then be the beneficiary of such largess without the slightest hint of regret or opposition?"

Continue reading "Hot Off the Press: Newspapers Back Donovan for AG" »

August 23, 2012

Reporters Hyperventilate Over, Then Discount, Poll — After a Call to Eric Davis

ClarkWhen word spread Wednesday afternoon that Castleton State College's new-ish polling center would release fresh results on the bitterly contested Democratic primary race for attorney general, reporters drooled.

At least, I did.

After all, we live in one of the least-polled states in the union, leaving political reporters to simply guess what real people are thinking or, worse yet, to dust off the rolodex and query retired Middlebury College professor Eric Davis — Vermont's Pundit Laureate, as Green Mountain Daily's John Walters endearingly calls him — who will readily provide the latest conventional wisdom.

So when Castleton released the first publicly available poll of the AG's race since May — back when the contest was still in its infancy — reporters surely went straight to Castleton Polling Institute director Rich Clark to seek his insight into what his poll tells — and doesn't tell — us about the state of the race. Right?

Uhhh, not exactly. Their speed-dials seemingly frozen on Eric Davis' number, at least three news outlets went straight to the Oracle of Middlebury to see what he thought about a poll he didn't conduct.

Continue reading "Reporters Hyperventilate Over, Then Discount, Poll — After a Call to Eric Davis" »

Dean Slams Donovan for Suggesting Illegal Super PAC Coordination

Sorrell and DeanFormer governor Howard Dean slammed attorney general candidate T.J. Donovan Wednesday for insinuating that opponent Bill Sorrell's campaign illegally coordinated an ad campaign with an independent super PAC.

During a brutally negative Burlington Free Press debate Tuesday, Donovan — the Chittenden County state's attorney — said he had heard "numerous complaints" of such coordination, but declined to provide any evidence. He did issue a stark warning to Sorrell, saying the incumbent attorney general "should be very careful about any alleged coordination that may have occurred" between Sorrell's campaign and the Committee for Justice and Fairness, noting that Sorrell's office has sought to prosecute other political candidates for similar crimes.

Funded principally by the Democratic Attorneys General Association, the Committee for Justice and Fairness super PAC has spent at least $184,000 on television ads and direct mail supporting Sorrell's reelection fight.

Asked Wednesday to elaborate on his boss' charge, Donovan campaign manager Ryan Emerson admitted the campaign has "no evidence to suggest that's true," but implied that Dean may have served as an "intermediary" between Sorrell's campaign and the super PAC. Dean, who appointed Sorrell to the attorney general post in 1997 and remains his highest-profile supporter, narrated the television ad produced by the Committee for Justice and Fairness.

Continue reading "Dean Slams Donovan for Suggesting Illegal Super PAC Coordination" »

August 22, 2012

In New Poll, Sorrell Leads Donovan in AG's Primary — But Many Remain Undecided

Ag-illustration_0With just six days to go before the August 28 primary, a new poll from Castleton Polling Institute shows incumbent Attorney General Bill Sorrell with a commanding lead over Democratic challenger T.J. Donovan.

At least among those who have made up their minds. Almost a third of voters surveyed said they were undecided in the Democratic primary for attorney general.

And the small sample size of 223 likely primary voters means the poll comes with a high margin of error — plus or minus 7 points.

"It's summer," said Castleton poll director Rich Clark. "And while those of us who love politics have been following it with great intensity, most of the public has been following the Olympics and everything else but politics." 

According to the poll, Sorrell leads Donovan 44 to 24 among likely voters, with 31 percent of respondents saying they are undecided. Among the 122 self-identified Democrats polled, Sorrell leads Donovan by 16 points, with 36 percent of Democrats saying they are undecided.

Click here for full results from the new poll.

Meanwhile, the poll showed Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin (whose name the poll misspelled as "Schumlin") with a healthy lead over Republican challenger Randy Brock — 60 to 26, with only 10 percent of voters undecided. Twenty percent of Republicans polled said they'd vote for Shumlin if the governor's election were held today, compared with 6 percent of Democrats who favor Brock.

And surprising no one, President Barack Obama also holds a solid lead over Republican Mitt Romney among Vermont voters, 62 to 25 with just 7 percent of voters undecided. The poll was conducted between August 11 and August 21 — after Romney selected Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. As Clark noted, that pick doesn't seem to have moved the Vermont electorate.

Continue reading "In New Poll, Sorrell Leads Donovan in AG's Primary — But Many Remain Undecided" »

The Most Ridiculous Photos of the 2012 Campaign — So Far

We interrupt our serious coverage of Vermont's 2012 election campaigns to bring you this totally frivolous bit of infotainment.

Every two years, Vermont politicians go through the rite of passage known as pandering for running for re-election. How do candidates win the hearts and minds of voters? Not with wonky policy plans and details about their "records," but with photos that show they are regular Joes — just like you!

To that end, Vermont candidates have peppered their Facebook pages with photographs depicting the lighter moments of the campaign. You know, milking goats, doing yoga, shaking hands with a guy in a cow costume. We pulled together the most amusing snapshots we could find and posted them here for your enjoyment. Many more are sure to come as the fall campaign kicks into gear post-Labor Day.

Our elected officials may at times leave us cynical, especially around campaign season, when things can get pretty petty. But at least they have a sense of humor.

Without further ado, we present the most ridiculous photos of the 2012 campaign, so far...

Attorney General Bill Sorrell submerged in a babbling brook

Sorrell in a Waterfall

Many more after the jump...

Continue reading "The Most Ridiculous Photos of the 2012 Campaign — So Far" »

Stuck in VT (VIDEOS)

Solid State (Music)

Mistress Maeve (Sex)

All Rights Reserved © Da Capo Publishing Inc. 1995-2012 | PO Box 1164, Burlington, VT 05402-1164 | 802-864-5684