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November 09, 2012

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

Scoreboard.newDamn. It was a big week in Vermont politics. Now that it's over, we're going to Disney World, where we plan to ride the monorail around for a while.

But before we go, we'd like to present this week's list of winners and losers (and ties!). We've mostly tried to disqualify winning and losing candidates themselves because, well, that'd be even more conventional wisdom than we typically offer.

Without further ado, here's The Scoreboard for the week of Friday, Nov. 9:

Winners:

Shap SmithYesterday we noted the key role Vermont Democratic House Campaign director Nick Charyk played in slightly expanding Democratic ranks in the House, but we should keep in mind that House Speaker Shap Smith runs the show. And he won big Tuesday. Dude likes to pretend he's a low-key policy wonk, but he's actually a shrewd strategist and an ambitious guy. The question is not whether he'll run for statewide office, but when it'll be — and whether it'll be for attorney general, governor or Congress.

Alex MacLean — Sure, it wasn't much of a fight. But Gov. Peter Shumlin's 20-point victory over Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) has as much to do with good work by administration and campaign officials as with his own impeccable political instincts. MacLean has served as one of Shumlin's chief political advisers since he was Senate President Pro Tem. As his reelection campaign manager, she did a masterful job of ignoring the crap out of Brock.

Liberty Union Party — Thanks to Mary Alice Herbert's 13 percent showing against Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos, Vermont's favorite fourth party will regain its major party status next cycle. That means you can expect to see even more Diamondstones on the ballot in 2014.

Brian Dubie — It was a good year to sit it out.

Vermont Democratic Party — It's impossible to say how much the Dems' domination had to do with rampant Obama fervor here in the Green Mountains, but the Democratic ground game surely added a few points to the board. Credit must go to chairman Jake Perkinson, executive director Julia Barnes, field director Ryan McLaren and all those other indoor kids down on Battery Street.

Numbers Guys/Gals — In the races for state treasurer and auditor, voters backed two candidates — Beth Pearce and Doug Hoffer — who were, um, qualified for the jobs. Go figure!

Tie Score:

Progressives — They increased their ranks in the Senate by one (Chittenden County's David Zuckerman, who also ran as a Democrat) and they held their ranks in the House. They even elected — perhaps for the first time — a sort-of-kind-of-mostly Progressive, Doug Hoffer, to statewide office. But they failed to win several northern Vermont House seats they were gunning for. And, in a tough blow, they lost two races to Democrats in the heart of the Prog-federacy: Burlington's Old North End. Lastly, Progressive attorney general candidate Ed Stanak underperformed, winning just six percent of the vote against a weakened incumbent, Democratic Atty. Gen. Bill Sorrell.

John Campbell — Haters can hate, but it looks like the Senate President Pro Tem actually picked up a seat instead of losing one, which was a distinct possibility. That said, governing a huge caucus is tough work. And Zuckerman, who he alienated during the general election, will surely strive to make it tougher. Expect chaos in the Senate — even if Campbell survives a leadership challenge, which he probably will.

Losers:

St. Albans — Putting politics aside for a moment, the worst news of the week came from up north Thursday, when Energizer announced it will close its St. Albans plant next year, costing Vermont 165 jobs.

Lenore Broughton and Tayt Brooks — No explanation really necessary. Except, it should be noted that Brooks also lost his race for reelection as justice of the peace.

Jack Lindley — Will the Vermont GOP keep its chairman around for another cycle after losing pretty much everything? Runners-up: Darcie Johnston and Mark Snelling or whichever of Brock's advisers thought it was a good idea for him to go uber-nasty in the closing weeks of his campaign. It didn't seem to help Brock's campaign — and it certainly hurt his reputation.

Hoffer Doubters — Idiots like me who mostly exist in the Montpelier/Burlington bubble expected ultimate insider Vince Illuzzi to beat Democratic/Progressive candidate Doug Hoffer in the race for state auditor. We were totally wrong. Why? It looks like Illuzzi wasn't nearly as well-known (or -liked) after 32 years in Senate as insiders thought. This being Hoffer's second year on the ballot, perhaps voters were more familiar with him. Despite all the gloating and carping from the "fringe" lefties (kidding!) over at Green Mountain Daily, the biggest factor in Hoffer's victory was likely huge Democratic turnout inspired by President Obama and assisted by Vermont's Democratic machine.

The Vermont Political Alumni NetworkFormer Dubie for Gov campaign manager Corry Bliss presided over Linda McMahon's second failed bid for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut. And former Douglas hand Jim "Mad Dog" Barnett of the Nasty Boys presided over Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's loss to Elizabeth Warren. The big exception: Former Deb Markowitz campaign manager Paul Tencher led Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) to an upset victory over that crazy dude, Richard Mourdock, to take a U.S. Senate seat.

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