It's been a strange year campaign-wise in Vermont thanks to GOP megabucks U.S. Senate candidate Rich Tarrant. The Rookie Republican's endless stream of nasty, sour, half-truth attack ads have guaranteed Bernie Sanders' upcomingNovember 7 landslide victory in the race for U.S. Sen. Jeezum JimJeffords' seat. They've also pissed off more Vermonters of everypolitical stripe than any previous political ad campaign in Vermonthistory.
Congratulations, Richie Rich! You are certainly a household name inVermont these days! Amazing what you can buy for a measely $5 million,eh?
But everyone we know was startled Wednesday when incumbent Republican Jim Douglassuddenly went into Tarrant-style, negative-attack-mode with a 30-secondTV spot trashing Democratic challenger Scudder Parker and a 60-secondversion doing likewise on the radio dial. Hey, I thought Ol' Scudderwas a long-shot?
Here's the radio script:
Some people make a name for themselves, andthey call Scudder Parker "Mr. Property Tax." Why? Because ScudderParker has backed higher property taxes – even taxes like Act 60, theproperty tax that turned Vermont families against each other, and drovefamilies and jobs out of state. Now Vermont taxpayers have somethingelse to worry about – now Mr. Property tax wants to be governor!
Andhe's working on making a few new names for himself – how about Mr.Income Tax? Mr. Payroll Tax? He just told Vermont Public Radio hewants just that – higher payroll and income taxes. He said under hisplan "everybody pays." And even with prices at the pump over threedollars, he's ready to raise gas taxes. Mr. Property Tax. Mr. IncomeTax. Mr. Payroll Tax. Mr. Gas Tax. There's just one name Vermontersshouldn't call Scudder Parker – and that is governor.
Paid for by Douglas for Governor.
Candidate Parker had a Thursday morning presser in the Cedar Creek Room at the Statehouse. His running mate, Lite-Gov hopeful Matt Dunne was at his side. After both saying very nice things about John Patrick Tracy who lost to Dunne, the Man Who Would Be Governor tore into the current one:
"Ihave to say that I am shocked to say that a sitting governor would beso tone deaf to the kind of campaign that Vermonters want theircandidates to wage," said Parker. "Especially given the outrage that Vermontersare expressing at the the campaign being waged by Rich Tarrant. Hisbarrage of negative ads against Bernie Sanders is something that isturning Vermonters off and the same will happen with the ads Mr.Douglas has started to run.," said Scudder.
"Youknow what?" asked the Democrat. "This isn’t about me. This is about howwe conduct ourselves as candidates. And this attack ad represents thevery worst in politics and it has no place in a campaign forgovernor....I call on Gov. Douglas to pull this add and pull hiscampaign back out of the gutter."
So we called Dennise Casey, Douglas' campaign manager, and asked if she will honor Parker's request and pull the offensive Tarrant-style attack ad?
"No,"replied Ms. Casey, who has played a much more behind-the-scenes rolewith the Douglas, VT GOP Team until recently. "We’ll continue withthis ad as planned with absentee voting occurring in just three weeks,"she told us. "We believe that Vermonters need to know that ScudderParker wants to raise their taxes."
At the moment, Vermont Democrats and Progressives (and a quite afew Republicans we know) are startled by Gov. Douglas's negative attackstrategy. These Douglas ads will surely raise Parker's name-recognitionquickly, eh? And they just might remind people that our nice-guygovernor is actually a Republican, just like Richie Rich Tarrant andjust like George W. Bush and his despised V.P. - Dick Cheney.
Is Jim Douglas sure he wants to remind people of that fact?