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July 01, 2009

Bulldog vs. The Flyboy?

F-ContinuingEd1 State Sen. Ed Flanagan (D-Chittenden) dispensed with the rumors and made it official Wednesday: He's running for lieutenant governor.

Flanagan, now in his fourth term as senator, served four terms as state auditor where he earned the nickname "bulldog" for his ability to hold accountable the administration of fellow Democrat Gov. Howard Dean. 

Rumors of Flanagan's potential bid to unseat Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie first surfaced on the Democratic activist blog Green Mountain Daily.

When I followed up directly on the GMD rumors with Flanagan for my "Fair Game" column, he chuckled and sidestepped the question. "Right now I’m just trying to absorb all these rumors, and find out who started them."

He then added, “I have no plan now to run for lieutenant governor.”

Didn't take him long to change his plans. Guess he was just being coy.

I wonder if the rough portrait Seven Days painted of Flanagan's competence as a lawmaker had anything to do with his circumspection? He was a bit more direct with Nancy Remsen at the Burlington Free Press in a post on the paper's political blog vtbuzz.

Rep. Floyd Nease (D-Johnson), the House majority leader, has been openly exploring a bid for the lite-guv post. The 2008 challenger, former Rep. Tom Costello and Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan are also mulling runs.

What I wonder is this: Is Flanagan's bid serious or is it just a way for him to bow out gracefully from the political stage?

Dubie's mum on his plans for 2010, but it's still early. Besides, rumors of Dubie not running for re-election always surface around this time in the election cycle. May be wishful thinking on the part of Democrats.

"The campaign season starts next year, not now. Its too early. People are not interested in non-stop campaigning. When the time is right to announce my intentions, I will," Dubie said. "Right now I am focused on doing the job Vermonters elected me to do."

On Wednesday that job took him to French Guiana where he watched a TerreStar satellite launched into orbit. The satellite is designed to improve AT&T mobile phone service in Vermont, as well as bring high-speed Internet services to the Northeast Kingdom.

Now, that's quite a photo-op, eh?

PS: To those hard-working volunteer bloggers at Green Mountain Daily, let me be clear: I didn't call you liars. If I thought you were liars, I wouldn't have even cited you as a source of the original rumors. My comment had more to do with the pols than with you. I thought I was being diplomatic by giving you cred for having this info first. Since my days at the Vermont Guardian, I've given credit where credit is due in the blogosphere and have given plenty of props to GMD and other sites. Life's too short, folks, and there are bigger battles to wage.

Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

It was obvious that you didn't call them liars. Some people see everything as a personal attack.

GMD has a habit of making everything about them.

Every second post is about how GMD isn't getting enough credit for what they do. And when the MSM do mention GMD it's never good enough for them. It's never respectful enough, never reverent enough, never good enough.

If they aren't being praised every day in the MSM, they just aren't happy.

Come on GMD -- stop focusing on yourselves. Keep you eye on the ball.

"Is Flanagan's bid serious or is it just a way for him to bow out gracefully from the political stage?"

That was my first thought when I heard the news.

So that opens two spots on the D ballot for the State Senate seats... which Representatives are ready to make the step up?

As an admirer of GMD and Fair Game, I admit to having been troubled by the dust-up over what Shay did or did not do regarding GMD's early posting on Flanigan's rumored plans. The words that popped into my mind were Rodney King's: Can't we all just get along? Personally, I thought Shay's comment was brief, unpointed and relatively innocuous. I value the information I can get from GMD, Seven Days, Fair Game, Vermont News Guy, VDB and similar sources (sometimes, even Vermont Tiger!). They dig rather than just chase press releases from corporate and political propaganda mills. The truly unfortunate thing is that most of the public is simply too disinterested to care. Thanks to you all for caring enough to probe, cajole, skewer and expose. Let me also add that the Rutland Herald/Times Argus group is doing its best in a difficult environment for the traditional journalistic model. Unfortunately, despite my high respect for certain folks at the Freeps, the Gannett model is a fading bulb, unable to cast light on much at all.

The bloggers at GMD are very angry.

They are so worried about what everyone else thinks about them.

They don't write about Flanagan. They write about what they wrote about Flanagan. And then they write about what someone else wrote about them writing about Flanagan.

It's more drama than a roomful of high school girls could muster.

Okay, first of all I'm not a GMD blogger. I am a regular reader, and a fan, of both GMD and "Fair Game." But I do think Shay crossed a line (not the same one as Mark Sanford). No, he didn't say GMD bloggers were liars. But he as much as said they were makin' stuff up:

"So who started the GMD rumor? GMD bloggers?"

That's a pretty direct statement. If he didn't mean it as an attack on GMD's credibility, he sure did a good job of making it seem that way.

You say that you aren't a GMD blogger -- but you do write lots of blog posts for GMD.

You aren't just a reader and a fan of GMD. You are a writer for GMD. That makes you a GMD blogger.

But to the point -- It's totally fair for anyone to question the origin of an internet rumor. A good journalist will take a rumor and try to authenticate it. That's what Shay tried to do.

The folks over at GMD are pretty delicate. Their feelings are easily hurt. They spend a lot of time whining that people aren't talking about THEM. When someone does, they whine some more.

Okay, if you want to slice the baloney that way, fine. The point I was trying to make is that I am not inherently in one camp or the other. I do not know any of the other GMD bloggers, I have only met one of them a couple of times, and I enjoy and appreciate Shay Totten's work fully as much as any GMDer's.

What Shay was doing (checking out a rumor) was, ahem, fair game, but he wrote it in an unduly snarky and accusative tone. And it seems to me that the Totten supporters in this comment thread are a pretty delicate bunch themselves. If you think that little of GMD, then for God's sake, stop reading it.

So now the complaint is that Shay was "unduly snarky" ?

Have you noticed how over-the-top-snarky the GMD bloggers are?

If the GMD folks can't take a little snark perhaps they shouldn't dish it out so generously.

(and using your own logic, JVWALT, if you don't like what Shay writes ... stop reading his stuff!)

Hey, hey, hey. Let's not get too worked up here. As Shay points out... "Life's too short, folks, and there are bigger battles to wage."

Keep up the good work, Shay! I took JVWALT's advice long ago and stopped reading GMD for all the reasons mentioned above. The high school "cliqueyness" of the writers, the self aggrandizing demeanor, the bristling at criticism, the hanging on every little word someone else said and dissecting it ad nauseum....

Back to Flanagan. He's definitely pulling a Symingtonian approach to leaving politics. Too bad he can't just exit with one announcement and be considered graceful. He'd be a great advocate for health issues! Win the Lt. Gov. seat.... yeah, right. Good luck with that.

Don't Feed the Whiners.

"he earned the nickname "bulldog" for his ability to hold accountable the administration of fellow Democrat Gov. Howard Dean."

"Hold accountable"? I don't think so. That's a spinny way (at best) of explaining what Fast Eddie did while he was Auditor. "Hold accountable" means that Dean was doing something wrong and Flanagan exposed it. Can you give some examples of real wrongdoing that Flanagan exposed?

Here's a more accurate view: He grossly politicized the Auditor's office. He found what he claimed were errors (however trivial) and, instead of alerting the Dean administration, immediately issued press releases and held press conferences. If you got between him and a microphone -- anywhere -- you were dead meat. He crassly used the Auditor's office as a personal political stepladder.

"Bulldog" fits, but not in the good way he wanted it to be used.

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