by Peter Freyne
Hey, if DNC Chairman Howard Brush Dean III says you're on the 25-member Credentials Committee that decides who can vote at the Democratic Convention this summer, you're on the Credentials Committee!
And if the primary contest between New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama continues on a nip-and-tick course, those 25 votes, including four cast by Vermonters, will be biggies.
Those four Vermonters include three former members of Ho-Ho's gubernatorial staff [from back in the old days before he had the antiwar/political sex-change operation]: Kathy Hoyt, Kate O'Connor and Bob Rogan - and someone who for some reason gets her name left out of all the news stories and even today's editorial about the Credentials Committee in the Times Argus.
And that distinguished someone would be Jane Stetson of Norwich. Jane, wife of Bill Stetson, founding president of the Vermont Film Commission, is of the Watson/IBM lineage and, like Bill, a passionate Barack Obama supporter.
It was at her Norwich home last August that Obama-Wama had the big fundraiser that raised around $250,000 for the currently emerging Democratic front-runner. Check out Mike Ives' story about it in Seven Days. Also Philip Barruth - an Obama supporter - blogged it up good in his Vermont Daily Briefing as "The Brigadoon Fundraiser of 2007."
Yours truly had a nice chat with one of those credentialed Democratic power-brokers late Tuesday - Mr. Rogan [at right]. Bob is currently chief of staff for Vermont Democratic Congressman Peter Welch - a man who appears unopposed in the 2008 race.
Freyne: Tough race ahead for Welchie?
Bob Rogan: Every day we wake up assuming we will have a competitive race. That’s what we’re planning for.
Freyne: Male or female?
Rogan: No idea. Lot’s of rumors come across the transom daily. We’re just assuming it’s going to be a competitive race and we’re planning for it.
Freyne: A lot of folks up here are thinking there isn’t going to be one. Are they crazy?
Rogan: You’ll have to ask them.
Freyne: Seen Howard lately?
Rogan: Yes. I spoke to him three weeks ago on the phone. He’s in good shape and happy and enjoying the position he’s in.
Freyne: [Rogan and I go back a few years.] I remember the other Howard Dean.
Rogan: Which one was that?
Freyne: The one that was governor of Vermont.
Rogan: [laughs] He’s come a long way.
Freyne: Kate O’Connor, formerly on the campaign staff of right-wing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ritchie Tarrant [ran against Bernie Sanders in 2006 and got creamed), is now on the Democratic Credentials Committee. Isn’t that a little funny?
Rogan: You’ll have to ask Howard and Kate about that. Kate is an old-time Vermonter with good political horse-sense. She’s someone who’s loyal to Howard Dean and a good friend of his and ours, but you’ll have to get someone else to comment on that.
Freyne: Do you have a horse?
Rogan: No. Haven’t written any checks; haven’t endorsed. I don’t have a dog in this one.
Freyne: The McCain people would like it to be Hillary.
Rogan: Unfortunately, that’s not going to be their choice...Everyone says this, but it’s what I truly believe. They’re both incredibly strong candidates and bring their own strengths to the table. And the party and the country will be served well by whoever ends up the nominee and the president.
Freyne: Well, that’s the standard rap.
Rogan: I honestly believe it. That’s why I’m having a tough time deciding.
Freyne: Let’s look at it from the other angle - their weaknesses. What is Hillary’s #1 weakness?
Rogan: [chuckles] That’s not for me to say. They’re both strong candidates.
Freyne: She’s got baggage Obama doesn’t have. You’re not going to go there?
Rogan: Others will go there. I’m not.
[Mr. Rogan said all he knows is he got a call from Ho-Ho about three weeks ago and a follow-up letter.]
There’s going to be a meeting of the Credentials Committee sometime in July and, I assume, another meeting at the convention. This is the committee that will determine which delegates have the right to vote on the floor of the convention.
It’s going to be fun and a bit intense.
Freyne: Ever think you’d have this wild a life?
Rogan: [chuckles] I’m living on the edge, Peter.