* Updated *
As August 24 gets closer, no one is likely to be immune from receiving campaign literature in the mail — or dropped on your doorstep, or hung from your doorknob.
Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin's campaign made a recent swing through Burlington's Old North End, leaving behind a trail of glossy brochures and hand-signed notes saying, "Sorry I missed you. Hope I can count on your support". Or some variation.
If you look closely at the pictures sent in by a savvy Seven Days reader, you'll notice "Peter" has a few different handwriting styles. Not surprisingly, volunteers and campaign staff sign his John Hancock to the love notes.
Shumlin's not alone, either. All Most of the campaigns do it — so the next time you find a little piece of campaign lit on your doorknob with a "personal" note, it's unlikely the candidate signed it.
I know, shocker, right? Let me tell you about the Tooth Fairy...
That said, in a small state like Vermont, it's not entirely out of the question that candidates sign each and every "Sorry I Missed You" note. Local House districts, city-council elections and, perhaps, State Senate races are likely to have a more one-on-one appeal. Not so when, like Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, you're knocking on 30,000 doors during the summer. When people are more likely outside.
Some of the gubernatorial candidates make an attempt to keep it personal — or at least not fake it.
Paul Tencher, campaign manager for Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, said a volunteer usually signs her notes. "But she also takes cards with her on rides if she has spare time," he said.
Amy Shollenberger, Sen. Doug Racine's campaign manager, said only Racine signs his own name to such cards.* volunteers sign most of Racine's notes
The only candidate who differs in this respect is former State Senator and current Google exec Matt Dunne. According to campaign spokesman Eitan Bencuya, only Dunne is allowed to sign his name to a piece of campaign literature.
"All canvassers for the campaign who choose to write a note on literature they leave behind are only allowed to sign it with their own name. During our initial orientation session for field organizers and volunteers, Matt made it very clear to the staff that no one should be signing his name on cards during canvassing, as it would be inappropriate, inauthentic and just downright deceitful," said Bencuya.
John Bauer, campaign manager for Sen. Susan Bartlett, said only Bartlett signs her missed missives. "If a staffer or volunteer did that, I would be quite angry. If it is signed by Susan, she signed it," he said. "Credibility counts for everything in this campaign."
No word yet on Dubie's campaign lit policies. I'll be sure to update you when I hear. Hey, beats writing about something superficial, such as energy policies or "job creation" plans.
If you look closely at the second picture in this post, you'll see the offending language in Shumlin's brochure that, well, offended Dunne recently.
Last week Dunne asked Shumlin to apologize for claiming he was the only candidate to have ever introduced a single-payer health care bill. In fact, Dunne had signed onto a bill in the early 1990s — one that never left committee.
* Updated at 6:45 a.m.: Doug Racine's campaign manager Amy Shollenberger contacted me after the article was published to inform me that only Racine signs his own name to the cards. Volunteers sign their own names if the leave the cards. She misunderstood my original question.