The Professional Firefighters of Vermont have been increasing their visibility this week in get-out-the-vote efforts for local House and Senate candidates as well as two Democrats running for statewide office.
They've cut a radio ad for Democrat Jim Condos, the candidate they are supporting for Secretary of State, that includes GOP Sen. Vince Illuzzi (R-Essex/Orleans), and are making phone calls for Democrat Steve Howard, who is running for lieutenant governor.
What about Republican Brian Dubie?
"We are assessing internally how we're going to distribute our resources to our candidates as we head into the final weekend," said Matt Vinci, president of the PFV. "We are doing a lot of work for our secretary of state and lieutenant governor candidates, and our efforts across the board and we have we're involved in legislative races and we're going to be out there working for candidates."
Sounds like the firefighters have enough blazes on their hands as both Condos and Howard need all the help they can get to defeat their respective opponents.
Still, no mention of Dubie? Seems odd given the the PFV's heavy presence at early campaign debates. Firefighters were out in force with bright yellow and black signs declaring support for Dubie -- even renting a large cherry picker and hanging several huge signs outside the first, live televised debate sponsnored by AARP and Vermont Public Television.
Those signs, though, have largely disappeared at recent appearances — replaced solely by the Dubie campaign staff's giant green, and white Dubie signs.
The PFV is, in my analysis, a bellwether union because it backs both Republicans and Democrats. Unlike other labor groups, which almost automatically endorse Democrats, the PFV, like the Vermont Troopers Association, is more fluid with its support.
The PFV also has a 100 percent track record of backing the winners in statewide contests.
As I noted in this week's "Fair Game," the PFV had been communicating with the Dubie campaign for weeks to voice its displeasure for how the campaign was attacking the character of Det. Sgt. Michael O'Neil and the troopers' union itself. The PFV and VTA work closely on issues, and its members are often in sync.
After a Monday meeting with firefighters, the Dubie campaign removed one of its 12 "ethical lapses" that it had posted to www.shumlinsethics.com.
"It's fair to say we've been in communication with the candidate and the campaign about several concerns over the last few weeks, and we're attempting to work through those concerns," said Vinci, who wouldn't say if firefighters will help Dubie make phone calls or take part in his "final approach" tour of Vermont this weekend.
The Dubie campaign failed to respond to repeated emails and phone calls asking for comment about how it addressed the firefighters' concerns and why the campaign removed the "ethical lapse" that focused on O'Neil's actions.
Vinci joined Dubie earlier in the campaign when the Republican made a 26.2-hour marathon tour of the state — visiting fire stations and workplaces throughout Vermont.