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September 27, 2012

In VPR Commentary, Douglas Waxes Nostalgic About the Days of Old

MicrophoneIt's nearly October in an election year. Which means that somewhere deep within the bowels of Middlebury College, former governor Jim Douglas is waxing nostalgic about the good ol' days. The days when he was immersed, as he wistfully recalls in a Vermont Public Radio commentary that aired Wednesday evening, in "shaking hands, kissing babies, raising money and running political ads, all to persuade voters to give me the opportunity to serve."

Only, something has changed in the political world since ol' Jimbo hung up his hat. Things just ain't what they used to be. This year, the ex-gov says, he just "can't wait for the political season to be over" and envies "our Canadian neighbors, who recently ended a campaign that lasted a mere 33 days."


We're enduring a barrage of radio, television and internet ads that are trying to influence our votes. Most don't offer policy initiatives or visions of the contenders who sponsor them: the majority tell us why the other candidate is no good. Even the positive ads lack any real substance, for fear of offending a key constituency or furnishing fodder to the opposition.

Back when Douglas was running for office, things were different. Douglas kept things positive and stuck to the issues. Like in this ad from his 2008 race against then-House Speaker Gaye Symington and then-radio host Anthony Pollina:


Continue reading "In VPR Commentary, Douglas Waxes Nostalgic About the Days of Old" »

September 24, 2012

Video: In First Campaign Ad, Republican AG Candidate Asks, "Do You Know Jack?"

Do you know Jack?

You might soon, if you own a TV.

That's because Jack McMullen, the Republican candidate for attorney general, has launched a television advertising campaign — and he plans to stay on the airwaves through Election Day. McMullen says he's planning to run five different ads, one of which will make light of his famous "teats on a cow" fumble in a 1998 debate.

"We intend to run a vigorous campaign here," McMullen says. "I have to overcome what appears to be the perception I'm not running a serious campaign. I think I am running a serious campaign. I think I'm a credible candidate, if you know my background."

To that end, McMullen on Saturday began airing a 30-second biographical ad on WCAX-TV and WPTZ-TV. The ad begins with a narrator asking, "Do you know Jack?" It then informs the viewer about "The Real Jack" — focusing on his working class roots, military career and Harvard education. It closes by briefly touching on McMullen's signature issue: crime.

Continue reading "Video: In First Campaign Ad, Republican AG Candidate Asks, "Do You Know Jack?"" »

September 21, 2012

Brock to Air New Ads Featuring a Singing Governor Shumlin

UPDATED WITH VIDEO: See below, "Who's He Fooling," one of three ads Brock is began airing Saturday morning.


Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock will launch his general election television advertising campaign Saturday with a clip of his Democratic opponent, Gov. Peter Shumlin, singing the Beatles.

Brock says his campaign has invested $70,000 in the 10-day ad run, which starts Saturday morning.  According to public records obtained at WCAX-TV, Brock will spend $26,671 on 68 spots on the station during that time period. Brock's campaign says it also plans to go up on WPTZ-TV and Fox44.

Brock says the three ads in rotation, which will focus on the economy and health care, "are designed to show the contrast between my position and those of Gov. Shumlin."

He also confirmed that one of the ads will feature the governor singing the Beatles' classic, "Here Comes the Sun." The footage presumably comes from Shumlin's impromptu a capella performance of the song during the Burlington Business Association's annual dinner in April at the Hilton.

"I hope they'll be kind of fun and enjoyable," Brock says.

Continue reading "Brock to Air New Ads Featuring a Singing Governor Shumlin" »

September 13, 2012

7 Reasons Shumlin Won — and Brock Lost — the VPR Debate

In the world of incumbent advantage, debates are the great equalizer. No matter who's up or down in the polls, in the race for campaign cash or in organizing a ground game, debates bring to the table just candidates, ideas and arguments.

It's the best venue for a long-shot challenger like Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) to make his case against a popular incumbent governor, like Democrat Peter Shumlin.

But at the first gubernatorial debate of the season Wednesday night at Vermont Public Radio's Colchester studios, Brock failed to make that case. Shumlin was better prepared, consistently on-message and totally unwilling to discuss the shortcomings of his two-year tenure. And Brock failed to force him to do so.

[Click here for VPR's very helpful, topic-by-topic video links. For more coverage of the debate, see VPR, the AP, the Times-Argus, VTDigger and the Freeps.]

Here are seven reasons we believe Shumlin won — and Brock lost — the debate:

Continue reading "7 Reasons Shumlin Won — and Brock Lost — the VPR Debate" »

September 11, 2012

Video: Shumlin Launches Reelection Campaign Monday at Nectar's

DSC04185Gov. Peter Shumlin capped off his first official day on the campaign trail by touting his economic record to a rowdy crowd of supporters at Nectar's Monday evening.

"We're growing jobs, we're delivering on promises to get tough things done, and we are making extraordinary progress to make this state a better place to get a job, a better place to make a living and a better place for our kids to prosper," Shumlin said.

After spending the summer putting off questions about his long-running campaign for reelection, the governor finally embraced his status as a candidate Monday, touring the state from Bennington to Rutland to Burlington. At Nectar's, he found a welcoming reception from cabinet secretaries, legislators, staffers and donors.

In a 17-minute speech, Shumlin outlined the achievements of his first term and goals for a second term while hammering Republican opponent Randy Brock's health care plan. Though much of his speech focused on the brewing debate over competing health care plans — a debate the incumbent appears to relish — Shumlin told Seven Days afterward that his campaign would be squarely focused on selling his economic record.

We'll have more on Shumlin's campaign kickoff in Wednesday's Fair Game. For now, we leave you with a video of the governor's speech and some photos from the event.

Continue reading "Video: Shumlin Launches Reelection Campaign Monday at Nectar's" »

September 10, 2012

Sanders on Moyers: BFFs? (VIDEO)

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is famously combative toward the media. That's mostly because we're shallow and dominated by our corporate overlords.

But Bernie clearly met his media soul-mate over the weekend. Vermont's june-yah senator (who turned 71 on Saturday) sat down with veteran broadcaster Bill Moyers on the latest iteration of his PBS show, "Bill Moyers & Company." And I don't think I've ever seen him so happy to be chatting with a journalist (see his ear-splitting grin at 2:47).

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September 07, 2012

Conservative Super PAC to Back Illuzzi, Wilton (VIDEO)

Vermonters First, a new conservative-oriented "super PAC," will back two down-ticket Republicans in a two-week burst of advertising slated to hit the airwaves Monday.

The group plans to run two 15-second commercials spotlighting Republican state auditor candidate Vince Illuzzi and Republican state treasurer candidate Wendy Wilton.

"Unfortunately, both through the media and elected officials, we're a lot of the time only hearing one perspective," said Tayt Brooks, the GOP operative who founded the group. "I certainly think it's important to have two sides of the issues debated and bring some balance back to the state."

The Vermont Press Bureau on Thursday first reported the group's filing and initial ad buy, which the news organization pegged at $70,000-plus. Seven Days viewed copies of the commercials filed with WCAX-TV Friday afternoon.

Video of the ads after the jump.

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Did Michigan Gov Channel 'Dean Scream' in Convention Speech? Actually, She Kinda Did

My inbox this morning was full of "Howard Dean" Google Alerts notifying me that news outlets were comparing former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm's convention speech last night to Howard Dean infamous 'I Have a Scream' speech from 2004.

I've seen such comparisons before, and usually I don't pay 'em much attention. I've found most turn out to be cheapshot attempts to link any fired-up liberal to Dean's widely-mocked speech after the 2004 Iowa caucus. So when I read the National Review Online headline "Granholm Channels Howard Dean" and the Mediaite header "Was Jennifer Granholm's Speech Too Reminiscent of Howard Dean's?", I figured it was more of the same.

Until I watched the speech, which I missed last night. (Thanks a lot, baby who needed to be put to bed!) All I can say is, Dean might want to lawyer up — because Granholm has totally ripped off his act!

Not only is Granholm every bit as whipped-up as our former governor and erstwhile presidential candidate, she even does the Deanesque litany of states — in this case, a state-by-state breakdown on the auto industry jobs created under President Obama.


August 30, 2012

20 Years After Clinton-Gore, a Burlington Artist Reflects On His Iconic T-Shirt Design

Curefortheblues-1While Republicans from around the country gather in Tampa this week, a Burlington designer is looking back on his small but significant contribution to a different presidential campaign.

In the summer of 1992, Doug Dunbebin was a graphic artist living in Beltsville, Md. when he came up with a design and slogan for the Clinton-Gore ticket that would soon catch fire and become one of the iconic images of the 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns.

In June 1992, then-candidate Clinton appeared on the "Arsenio Hall Show" and ripped out a bluesy version of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" on his tenor saxophone. It was a seminal moment in Clinton's political career — as Hall remarked afterward, "It's good to see a Democrat blow something other than an election" — and earned him new found respect and support among young and minority voters.


Within weeks, Dunbebin, then 30, created an electric-blue-on-black illustration (above) of Clinton blowing his sax, below the slogan, "The Cure for the Blues."  He printed the design on a few dozen T-shirts and gave them to friends from the National Organization for Women, who were heading to New York City's Madison Square Garden for the Democratic National Convention in mid-July.

Continue reading "20 Years After Clinton-Gore, a Burlington Artist Reflects On His Iconic T-Shirt Design" »

August 29, 2012

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

TJ and wifeIn case you missed it last night — or more accurately, early this morning — the last political hurrah on the old blog was our wrap-up of primary night, including photos, videos and charts from the top races around the state. 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.”

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