*Correction added at the end regarding Thursday's Opera House Debate Sponsorship (12:45 p.m.)*
It’s a Seven Days Wednesday, but I’ve got to tell you, this is one political columnist who’s glad he’s got a blog.
Catch the Vermont Public Radio debate last night? Republican Gov. Jim Douglas' first campaign face-to-face with the opposition: Democrat Scudder Parker and that Liberty Union guy.
About 15 minutes in, I realized I was feeling relieved that I had not written Ol’ Scudder’s political obituary in this week’s Seven Days column. Not quite. Left a door open, as they say.
My Scudder moment, described in the column, was in the barber’s chair on lower Main Street on Monday. Terry and Sue’s place - Main Street Barbers (for years they were Ron Corey’s A-Team over on College Street - we’re talking back to he Mayor Sanders days of the 1980s, folks. Hair was brown).
Sue is married, lives in Essex Junction. Dare we describe her as "middle-of-the-road" (by Vermont standards) mainstream America? And she talks to a lot of heads with hair on a regular basis.
But Sue the Barber told me she has never heard of Scudder Parker! Ever! And she has absolutely no idea what the guy stands for. None!
Folks, if it’s 50 days before the November election and a Main Street, Burlington, Vermont licensed barber has never heard of the Democratic candidate for Vermont governor, wouldn’t you say it’s over?
But I held off, knowing Ol’ Scudder’s first TV spot was about to air and the first face-to-face debate was about to happen (Tuesday evening on VPR after “Inside Track” went to press.)
Glad I held off, because Ol’ Scudder was right in Gov. Scissorhands face and scored some points in that VPR debate. Wait till he really starts nailing him on his antiwind power position, eh? Parker, you see, is no lightweight in the knowledge and experience department. But it is his first run for statewide office, something Jimmy D's been doing since 1980 (secretary of state).
The Sanders for Senate weekend tracking poll that Republican Richie Rich Tarrant’s fans dispute (Tarrant was at 27 percent approval after almost nine solid months of expensive and delusional TV commercials), tells a very different story in the Guv’s Race. Republican Douglas widened his lead over Democrat Parker (54-31). However, the Douglas folks did not question the poll’s accuracy like the Tarrant folks did. Those numbers were just fine with them.
Of course, the 54-31 number came after a week of Gov. Scissorhands running a nasty ad attacking Scudder. The Douglas crew had a camera guy video Parker speaking to a Community College class. Then they slo-moed the tape to make him look stupid. Folks, Scudder Parker is a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.
Tuesday night's VPR debate has postponed any early Scudder Parker political-obituary writing. In fact, after what we heard last night on the radio, this baby could get very interesting. And I swear I detected a little nervousness in a few of the Guv's responses. The next debate is Thursday evening at the Barre Opera House at 7:30. It's just a half hour. A pro-Douglas, anti-Democrat business PAC is sponsoring it and taping it for airing on WVNY-TV on an upcoming Sunday morning in October. They're also taping a congressional debate at 6 P.M. and a Senate one at 6:45. Organizer Joe Sinagra just told me he's not sure Bernie can make it. The Sanders folks, he said, have not confirmed yet.
Hey, I have never been to the Barre Opera House, how about you?
Post Script: Thank you for yesterday’s “Tuesday Feedback” and suggestions. I agree with those who say let’s keep things wide open and not require ID and registration to post comments. Hey, who reads the comments anyway?
Like in life, I’m still learning as I go. And after Tuna’s comment (aka UVM’s Dr. Alfred Snider, on sabbatical in Europe) I checked the site-meter in the lower left corner (you can, too) and learned we’ve got a few international “Freyne Land” readers clicking in from Paris, France to Seoul, Korea to Moscow, Russia, Lisbon, Portugal and Vienna, Austria and more.
And this “unknown country” keeps popping up. I’ve always suspected it’s a certain old regular “Inside Track” reader and former column character by the name of Gasoline Vallee - the Bush administration’s current U.S. ambassador to Slovakia! Do check out the Bratislava embassy website and you can see and hear the man who made a name for himself by putting fresh flowers in the clean bathrooms of his Maplefields convenience store/gas stations. Cool!
Some will say Ol' Skip bought his ambassadorship and indeed a case can be made and is made at opensecrets.org. He was after all, a Bush Ranger in 2004. But as far as we know ambassadorships have been bought for a long time under Democratic administrations and under Republican ones, too. It's just that the Bush Team has been a little more up-front about it. They don't hide the "For Sale" signs.
As we wrote in a Track column back in early 2005 before he landed the ambassadorship to Slovenia, oopsie, Slovakia: Gasoline Vallee told Seven Days that his personal generosity sets a good example for fellow Republicans. "When I call and ask people to give their dollars," he explained, "it assists my entry to say I've done it myself."
And he really is a nice guy, too. Ex-hockey player from St. Albans.
*Correction Regarding Barre Opera House Debate Sponsorship:
The official debate sponsor is an outfit I never heard of before called the “Vermont Coalition for Employment & Prosperity.” Unlike the spanking new Vermont Business Coalition Political Action Committee that formed just one month ago, VCEP does not have a website, according to its spokesman Joe Sinagra of the Vermont Homebuilders, who is also the spokesman for VBC and our debate contact, too!
VCEP, said Sinagra, is a business association that's been around, he guessed, "about six years." It’s made up of member business associations: Realtors, Homebuilders, Grocers, Auto Dealers, Forest Products, VT Chamber, Petroleum, Farm Bureau and Fuel Dealers etc. They are also members of the new VBC PAC of which Mr. Sinagra is also our contact person. That’s where things got confusing. One guy - three hats at once!
Not in the VBC PAC but in VCEP, said Sinagra, are the Burlington-based Lake Champlain Chamber, the Vermont Hospitals Association and the Vermont Retail Association.
The VBC PAC has targeted 56 House Democrats and 1 Prog under Montpeculiar's Golden Dome. In the process the new biz pac has pissed off a whole lot of Ds, the vast majority of whom are assured reelection. VBC PAC members will likely have a real fun time lobbying the Democratic majority next winter as a result. Maybe that’s why the Lake Champlain Chamber, the Hospitals Association and the Retail Association stayed out of it?
Also, Big Joe told us the price tag to produce and air the Opera House debate is $14,000.