Make Hay: Summer campaigning, and some are not

 Second quarter FEC campaign finance filings are available, and VTbuzz’s Nancy Remsen and Vermont Press Bureau’s Hirschfield sifted through the reports so you won’t have to, unless you want to. There aren’t any surprises reported, and the summary is almost completely predictable. Senators Leahy and Sanders have plenty of money on hand. Governor Shumlin is also doing very well for campaign cash. While the Freep highlights the $101,000 Rep. Welch pulled in this quarter from 67 PACs, a spokesman for the congressman counters that 68 percent of the new contributors were individuals. Well, that’s some good summer reading just before a nap.

With an eye on fall fundraising and next year’s campaign season, Hirschfield at Vermont Press Bureau (available free here) reports that a potential rematch between Vermont’s Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan has “generated the most early interest.” No hint on who, what, or where  this early interest generation happens to be sourced.  

Sorrell and Donovan had a frustratingly close primary battle in the last election cycle, with only 700 votes dividing them. Donovan, it is noted, has kept a pretty high profile since returning to his job as Chittenden AG. And TJ sounds hungry for a rematch:

“There are many nights I’m waking up at 3 a.m. thinking about how I could have made up those 700 votes,” Donovan said.

Sorrell says he is concentrating on the job and isn’t thinking of politics until this fall. But when you listen closely, despite his disclaimers, he actually does sound like a man with politics on his mind, especially how much happier he’d be without having to bother with them. Sorrell mentions how much more pleasant it was this year not to have to march in six different parades on the fourth of July. He adds most stoically:

“I won’t let the fact that campaigning is not always enjoyable be the determinant factor in whether or not I run again.”

Even so, Sorrell likely will not allow Donovan to steal a march on him in a possible rematch primary campaign. He said last year that he’d learned his lesson after being spanked by the Vermont Democratic State Committee’s vote against endorsing him.

Sorrell speaks like a man who is late for an appointment. Maybe make that, he sounds like a man  late for a ‘re-appointment.’ Perhaps an appeal to Governor Shumlin for a non-elected job? Maybe Shummy could use another ‘former Attorney General’ in his stable of personal lawyers.

5 thoughts on “Make Hay: Summer campaigning, and some are not

  1. Props to Hirschfeld and Remsen and Heintz at 7days for covering campaign finance in the off year.  

    While it may be a snooze for some, the general public should be paying more attention to who funds the campaigns of our elected officials.  And that information should be readily available to any interested citizen in a searchable online database.

    Unfortunately, Vermont’s current campaign finance system is abysmal when it comes to transparency.  Case in point: the current state of the VT SOS campaign finance page.  (1999 called.  It wants its web site back.)

    It’s bad enough that unlike the majority of states in the country, candidates and PACs in Vermont are still required to file reports on paper – now we have to wait 10 days for them to be turned into PDFs for public viewing?

    We can do better than this.

  2. Not to mention that my process for submitting campaign finance reports was:

    1) Enter numbers & info into a fillable PDF

    2) Print two copies of the PDF

    3) Drop one copy off at Washington County Clerk’s office, and one copy off at the Secretary of State’s office

    At which point

    4) The paper document was scanned (without character recognition to allow for searching)

    5) The PDF of the scan is uploaded to the site.

    A passable (but still bad) option would be to go from step 1 to 5, where the candidate sends over the original PDF, which is published to the web site immediately.

    There have been a variety of numbers tossed around about the cost of a real campaign finance database, and a bill this year’s would have required such a database by the 2014 election, but didn’t provide any funds for it:

    The legislation also requires Secretary of State Jim Condos to build a searchable online database compiling political donations, but fails to fund that mandate.

    “Unfortunately the legislature has made a decision not to put any money in it, and I question how serious they are about getting that done. Without money, I can’t do it,” said Condos after the Senate session.

    I contacted Secretary Condos and Director of Elections Senning offering the members of my software engineering class I teach this Fall as a development team to design and build the database and web application for free. The 10+ students all responded favorably to the idea, but I didn’t get a response from the SoS’ office, so we’re going to go ahead and build it anyways. We’ll probably release it under an open-source license when we’re done.

    Feature requests?

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