Bruce Lisman steps aside

The inevitable development of a relatively new organization, or the rumblings of further news on the horizon?

That’s the big question about today’s announcement from Campaign for Vermont, the Bruce Lisman-founded, Bruce Lisman-funded, Bruce Lisman-headed “grassroots” organization.

Well, no longer Bruce Lisman-headed, as it turns out.

Louise McCarren, a Charlotte resident with deep experience in public service and private business, has been elected by the board as the chair of Campaign for Vermont (CFV).

… The board also elected Mary Alice McKenzie as vice-chair and secretary, and Tom Pelham as treasurer.

The press release doesn’t say so, but McKenzie and Pelham were actually re-elected to positions they’d already occupied. The only change is McCarren in and Lisman out as board chair. McCarren is another classic CFV “outsider” type; she’s held a number of corporate positions (including President of Verizon Vermont) and has served on a brace of corporate and nonprofit boards, including National Life Group, Fletcher Allen, Vermont Public Television, and Vermont Law School. She was appointed chair of the state Public Service Board by then-Gov. Dick Snelling.

CFV spokesflack Shawn Shouldice says the election of a new chair is a natural move forward: “He [Lisman] has been saying all along that he wants the organization to become self-sustaining.” This includes the very informal beginnings of an effort to actually raise money from sources other than Lisman’s personal Wall Street fortune. Hey, there’s now a “Donate” button on the CFV website! Shouldice says the group has received “some minor contributions” so far.

Which raises the inevitable question — at least, inevitable in the minds of the political media — does this presage a Lisman candidacy for Governor?

drum roll, please…

I’d heard that CFV and/or Lisman had a big announcement scheduled for next week. But before I could even ask if that was true, Shouldice told me that there would be an announcement, and the subject would be the hiring of a paid staff person — an Executive Director. Late last year, CFV had advertised for two paid staff; they’re only hiring the one for now. I didn’t bother to ask for the new staffer’s name, because That Would Be Telling.

So unless this is all a big misdirection play, don’t expect a candidacy kickoff. “He has no plans to run for Governor,” says Shouldice.” He’s been very consistent about that.”

Yes, he has. Of course, the phrasing “no plans to run” leaves open the possibility of a new plan. But personally, I wouldn’t expect it, at least not so soon. I have no idea if Lisman is as self-deluded as other wealthy political failures (Rich Tarrant, Jack McMullen, Skip Vallee), but somehow I doubt it. He stands a better chance of influencing public policy by jumpstarting a plausibly centrist organization than by mounting (and self-funding) a longshot candidacy for Governor against an entrenched and deep-pocketed incumbent.

Still, it’s fun to speculate, isn’t it?  

5 thoughts on “Bruce Lisman steps aside

  1. While school budgets overwhelmingly passed, there’s mounting disgust over property tax increases.  What better time to announce a candidacy than when taxes and budgets are fresh on the minds of voters?  

  2. He’s creating a little calculated distance from CFV before taking a run in 2016, when there’s every possibility that Shumlin will be fishing upstream.

    He still believes that Vermonters were all born yesterday; but he’s already demonstrated a slyness that none of his predecessors ever had, so he could be a threat by then.

  3. As a member of Campaign for Vermont, I have spoken with Mr. Lismen many times – He is not a party person (Democrat, Republican, Progressive, whatever); he is conservative and interested in improving Vermont’s economic environment for business and individual citizens. He certainly is willing to put his money where his mouth is!  I found him unflappably nonpartisan, regardless of how badly the parties were acting at the moment – he would refuse to speak poorly of any individual – he was always focused on the issues and persuading folks to his point of view.   It would not surprise me to see him launch a concentrated effort to resolve one of Vermont’s most pressing problems (education, health care or governmental transparency).    

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