Bumpergate? | Inside Track | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published May 29, 2002 at 4:00 a.m.

Vermont’s 2002 election looks to be a wide-open shooting match, and teamwork may well be the key to victory in the post-Howard Dean Age.

That’s why a recent internal flap over Democrat bumper stickers raises concern over team unity. At issue is the donkey party’s recent purchase of “Racine-Shumlin” stickers.

As everyone knows, the current Democratic Lite-Gov, Doug Racine, is hoping to succeed Dr. Dean as Vermont’s governor. And State Sen. Peter Shumlin (D-Windham) is angling to succeed Racine. Two experienced and talented guys. But how well will they work together as a ticket?

“My experience is,” said Putney Pete, “individuals lose and teams win. It’s in our interest to work as a team.”

But Seven Days has learned that the team recently hit a sticky little bump in the road. There was a little snafu over the first batch of 500 “Racine-Shumlin” stickers. Officially, the problem was due to an unfortunate “miscommunication.” But unofficially, the foul-up may reflect just how chummy Racine is with Shummy.

Fact is, Shumlin is facing a tall order in his first (and surely not last) bid for statewide office. Not only does he have to worry about Republican Brian Dubie coming at him from the right, but Shummy has to keep an eye on Progressive Anthony Pollina coming at him from the left.

Doobie-Doo ran last time and is expected to be a much-improved campaigner this time, with a vastly improved grasp of state government issues.

Tony the Prog ran for governor last time and enjoys name-recognition Shumlin can only dream of at this stage.

As everybody knows, Mr. Racine avoided a messy Democratic gubernatorial primary by cutting a deal with Shumlin. The Windham County Wonder opted out of a gubernatorial bid and politely dropped down a notch to run for Lite-Gov. Racine, after all, was first in line. Shumlin reluctantly decided that waiting his turn was in the party’s best interest.

Doug the Quiet Man was also blessed when Tony the Prog decided he has a better shot in November at the second spot. Pollina announced a bid for Lite-Gov, too.

What no one expected was that an almost unknown Prog, Michael Badamo, would jump into the vacuum and seek the open gubernatorial slot on the Progressive Party ticket.

In November, Mr. Racine will need the left — all of the left — in order to win. He’ll slug it out toe-to-toe with Republican Jim Douglas for the moderate vote, but he can’t afford any significant bleeding on his left flank. That means Racine can’t piss off Pollina supporters by being too chummy with Shummy. Get it?

The fact is, say sources, Racine and Shumlin are anything but chummy these days. Some say Putney Pete is having second thoughts about caving in to Racine last fall and dropping out of the governor’s race.

Anyway, back to the bumper stickers.

Recently, a respected Democrat activist and campaign contributor suggested his party emphasize “teamwork.” To that effort, he coughed up some cash to produce Racine-Shumlin bumper stickers to promote the Vermont Democrat ticket. Shumlin was delighted.

When the bumper stickers arrived, they were fine with Shumlin. Racine, however, had a little problem.

The Quiet Man told Seven Days he had not been consulted in advance about the Racine-Shumlin stickers. He said that he noticed they read “made in Vermont,” but did not carry the “union bug,” showing they were made in a union print shop. Racine said his campaign materials have always had a union label. It’s his policy.

Mark Michaud, the executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party, told Seven Days that he also noticed another problem with “the disclosure language” on the bumper stickers.

While the stickers carried a statement declaring they were “paid for by the Vermont Democratic Party,” he said, they did not contain the party’s mailing address as required by state law. The originals, he said, were “destroyed” and another batch ordered.

Mr. Michaud told Seven Days this week that the new “Racine-Shumlin” stickers have arrived with the appropriate address and union label. He said there are 500 of them.


Asked about Bumpergate this week, Lt. Gov. Racine insisted it was simply a matter of “poor communication.” He told us it has nothing to do with concerns about offending Pollina supporters.

“I’m campaigning with Shumlin,” Racine told yours truly. “I have endorsed him and we continue to work together.”

But will they work together as closely as Gov. Howard Dean and Racine did in past elections?

You may recall, Ho-Ho made a big deal about campaigning door-to-door with Racine and did TV spots with him. It worked. We asked Racine if he plans on teaming up with Shumlin in similar fashion.

The Quiet Man answered by first pointing out that “in a technical sense,” the offices of governor and lieutenant governor are “elected independently.” And yes, he acknowledged, Howard Dean has helped him a great deal in past elections by running closely together as a ticket. And most certainly, said Racine, he and Shummy “are going to help each other out.”

But it’s a little premature to suggest just how strong a “ticket” Doug and Pete will be.

“We’re both going to have to think this through,” said Mr. Racine, “and decide what makes sense for both of us in terms of running independent campaigns and working together at the same time.”

Not exactly a kiss on the lips, eh?

Fact is, said Racine, some of his supporters back Shumlin and some back Pollina, “and that’s just the way it is.”

Burlington’s Progressive Mayor Peter Clavelle quickly comes to mind. Mayor Moonie is strongly supporting Racine for governor, and strongly supporting Pollina for lite-governor.

Can’t wait to see those bumper stickers, eh?

It’ll be interesting to see which one ends up on Racine’s Jeep Cherokee. Maybe both?

DeanWatch 2004 — You may have seen the weekend story about Vermont Public Radio getting last-minute approval from Uncle Sam for its tour group to visit Cuba. You know, Communist Cuba, the last reminder of the Cold War? The land of Fidel Castro, the Western hemisphere’s most successful revolutionary since George Washington.

As you know, our proud nation, the United States of America, continues an absurd economic boycott of tiny Cuba. Even die-hard free traders have a blind spot when it comes to Cuba.

Folks of a certain age will always remember President John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis when nuclear annihilation seemed imminent. The island, 90 miles from Florida, was a client state of the Soviet Union in the 1960s that roused fear and loathing on the mainland.

Ah, yes, pride is the worst of the seven deadly sins. Our government simply cannot get over the fact that Fidel ejected American capitalism and the American Mafia from his island.

Time heals all wounds, they say, but this one continues to ooze pus. Even with the Soviet Union dissolved and the Berlin Wall torn down, the planet’s only superpower maintains a shameful policy toward its tiny neighbor.

Since George W. Bush moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the screws on Cuba have been tightened. More than 700 Americans have been prosecuted and fined for visiting Cuba as tourists during Dubya’s first year in office.

A couple weeks ago, former President Jimmy Carter visited Cuba, criticized Fidel’s government on Cuban TV, and called for an end to the U.S. embargo and an easing of restrictions on travel.

Since Jimmy Carter of Plains, Georgia, was once one of our favorite presidential hopeful’s early role models, we put the question to him. Where does Howard Dean stand on Cuba?

Dr. Dean said he doesn’t have a policy just yet, but he’s “working on one.” He was, however, kind enough to share some of the factors he’s considering in formulating his Cuban policy. From the sound of it, the cold-warrior mentality still burns bright in Ho-Ho’s psyche.

For starters, Dean puts Fidel in the same category as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, architect of weapons of mass destruction.

“It makes sense to have open trade [with Cuba],” said Ho-Ho, “but on the other hand you have a guy who is a gross violator of human rights. It’s going to be very hard for me to reward the behavior of someone like Fidel Castro any more than we would reward the behavior of Saddam Hussein.”

Birds of a feather in Ho-Ho’s mind. But when’s the last time the New York Yankees started a pitcher from Baghdad?

Gov. Dean says both dudes, Fidel and Saddam, “put their critics in jail,” and do “appalling” things. He compared the Cuban trade embargo to the sanctions on Iraq. Sounds like Ho-Ho and his fellow Yale alumnus, Dubya, are on the same better-dead-than-red page on this one.

“It’s a difficult balance between trying to keep someone in the world community and yet, at the same time,” said Dean, “not send the wrong message. It’s a very tough question. I don’t have a position on it yet.”

Ho-Ho says he plans to sit down with “experts” on Cuban policy before formulating his own. No doubt he’ll also calculate just how important the anti-Castro Cuban-American vote is in winning Florida’s 25 electoral votes. Our sources say they vote Republican anyway.

“There’s no winning side in this one in terms of politics,” conceded Dean. “Might as well make your decision on a thoughtful, strategic basis and then take the lumps, because you’re going to have to take your lumps from one side or the other depending on what you do.”

Cuba si, Ho-Ho no?

UVM Goes to Market — The bond market, that is. This week the University of Vermont is rolling out its biggest bond issue in history. UVM will be offering investors $119 million in long-term bonds.

UVM President Ed Colodny told Seven Days that “A significant portion of these bonds may well be sold to Vermonters. It’s tax-free income and it’s a good deal.”

Interest will be in the 5 to 6 percent range. The exact rate will be determined later in the week.

The “bulk” of the cash raised, said Colodny, will be used for “residential life projects.” Student dorms will be renovated and a new residence hall constructed, providing 500 to 600 new beds.

“It shows the university is moving forward on building for the future,” said Colodny.

By the way, Mister Ed, a Burlington kid who made it big in the corporate world and then came home to help his alma mater in a time of crisis, wraps up his tour of duty as interim president next month. Ed’s done good. Real good. June 28, he said, will be his last day in the president’s office at Waterman.

As everyone knows, Dan Fogel will be taking over the UVM reins as the new full-time president. But Mister Ed is going to maintain his renewed ties to his hometown.

Colodny told Seven Days that he and his wife recently purchased a condominium at College and Battery, a.k.a. Megabricks. The Colodnys bought a 1600-square-foot, third-floor unit on the lakeside. They’ll still maintain their primary residence in Bethesda, Maryland, he said, but you can expect to see them on the streets downtown for years to come.


Congratulations, Graduate! — And the graduate we’re talking about is State Sen. Dick McCormack. The Windsor County Democrat just picked up a masters in environmental law from Vermont Law School — cum laude, too!

The talented 54-year-old folk singer is chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. “Just another arrow in my quiver,” he told Seven Days. Getting his masters was a three-year pursuit.

“I’m ready to have my music become an avocation,” said McCormack. “I’ve outlasted most of the hippies, but I need a job.”

Preferably a job that will allow him to spend winters under Montpeculiar’s golden dome.