Phil Scott’s Summer Party

Banking on the RLGA

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott joined the Republican Party in Boston a couple days ago. The supposedly reluctant Republican found time to attend his first Republican Lieutenant Governors Association (RLGA) meeting. And of course he didn’t “just join” the party in the sense of becoming a bona fide member, but you might be forgiven for receiving that mistaken impression if you read his comments in the Free Press’s VtBuzz. In fact, given the way he (and by lazy reportage, the Free Press) races to spin himself as a moderate, you might have gotten the impression that the entire Republican Lieutenant Governor’s Association meeting was a special bipartisan training workshop.

One Democrat, Massachusetts Lt. Governor Tim Murray, was on hand for one session, but that hardly makes the typically highly partisan event politically neutral. Murray is resigning office soon for the private sector. This is the Tim Murray who, some may recall, was arrested in 2012 for crashing a state-owned Crown Vic into a rock ledge at almost 100 mph. He was at the RLGA conference to discuss emergency preparedness planning.

So VtBuzz says Scott scooted out of town for the Boston meeting Sunday after racing at the Devils Bowl in West Haven. Scott has certainly been in politics long enough to know what to expect, but surprisingly claimed he didn’t know what to expect (and Freep political blogger Nancy Remsen takes his word for it):

I didn’t know what to expect,” Scott said about attending a meeting of just Republican lieutenant governors. “I thought it was going to be more partisan.” [emphasis added]

Partisan enough, on the flip …

Scott claims he didn’t know what to expect, but he did expect it be “more partisan”. Well, how partisan was it?

A partisan organization, the RLGA bills itself as the only national organization committed to raising money and assisting Republicans in campaigns for Lieutenant Governor.  The RLGA is one of the party-building groups overseen by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).The RSLC chief is Ed Gillespie (former counsel to President GW Bush), who with Karl Rove founded the American Crossroads “superPAC.” Don’t know how much more ‘partisan’ the RLGA can get.

The Vice Chairman of the RLGA is Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi,  elected in March. His task:

“[…] helping elect more strong conservative leaders to lieutenant governor offices around the country,”

And Scott might have visited with Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor and ordained Southern Baptist minister who is certainly no stranger to red-meat partisanship, who was  on hand at the event. A happy Huckabee tweeted with joy:

Joined impressive #conservative lt. governors in Boston for @theRLGA National Meeting. Important to support these strong leaders!

Unfortunately VtBuzz’s Remsen hardly bothered to question Scott’s reporting from Boston. And it leaves one wondering: What prompted the Vermont Republican-lite lite gov to tear himself away from the race track in mid-summer?

Hmmmmn, could it possibly have been to make a pitch for campaign funds from the national Republican money raising group?

Not to mention, Scott’s first outreach to the RLGA looks more than a little interesting in the light of recent stories of a rift in the VT Republican Party that supposedly pits Scott’s “moderate” faction against that of red-meat party Chairman Jack Lindley, whose fundraising efforts lionize folks like Maine’s Gov. Paul LePage, who has broken the veto record for his state and engaged in a very public scrap with most of the state’s major dailies.

Of course, maybe it’s as simple as Scott realizing that his party is broke(n) under Lindley’s leadership, and the money to run has to come from somewhere. And Scott may have to run further to the right to qualify for RLGA funds. Attending the conference was likely a step in that direction.

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