The Million Dollar Man Strikes Again

Hey, the first campaign finance reporting deadline has come and gone. And the big news — just about the only news of significance — is the size of Governor Shumlin’s war chest.

One… MEEELLLLEEEEOOONNNNN… dollars.

Well, to be precise, one million seven thousand five hundred dollars and sixty-two cents. As proudly displayed on the superfluous cover sheet accompanying his finance report. (Hey, you can see all the reports online at the Secretary of State’s website! Fun times.)

I suspect the purpose of the cover sheet is to get that seven-figure total RIGHT IN YOUR FACE. It’s certainly got to be a daunting sight; and I daresay it’s unprecedented for any state-level candidate at such an early point in the season.

Gotta be giving any potential Republican challenger a serious case of Shumlin Affective Disorder, which inflicts Vermont Republicans with an ominous, all-encompassing sense of dread that Peter Shumlin will be Governor as long as he damn well wants to be.  

This isn’t all new cash; the Gov had nearly $700,000 in his kitty from 2012, when he spent very little while breezing to re-election. He did, however, raise about $320,000 in a time when other candidates are barely getting their acts together. Can you say “perpetual campaign,” boys and girls?

The other thing worth pointing out is that (as VPR’s Peter Hirschfeld pointed out) Shumlin raised the bulk of the new money from out of state: $240,000 from outside Vermont compared to $80,000 from within. That new gig as head of the Democratic Governors Association really helps, doesn’t it?

I’m sure the Republican response will be “Governor Shumlin Is Beholden To Out Of State Interests And Doesn’t Care About Vermonters,” which, pfui. If the Republicans had enough pull to bring in out-of-state money themselves, they’d do it in a Dick Cheney auto-tuned heartbeat. I think the Governor did a smart and, well, in a way, generous thing by going outside Vermont to stuff his vault. After all, he’s leaving the fertile fields of Vermont Democratic fundraising potential to other candidates who can’t go elsewhere and who will actually need the money.

Maybe he’s even telling local donors to spread their money elsewhere — say, for instance, defending the Dems’ legislative majorities and its statewide officeholders. Or even putting a little cash into the Lieutenant Governor’s race. Spread the wealth, spread the victory.  

2 thoughts on “The Million Dollar Man Strikes Again

  1. This shows the need for a law restricting campaign fundraising to constituents.

    People from California or Ohio do not have party status (in the legal sense) in Vermont. They don’t live here, they can’t vote here. Likewise, a Vermonter doesn’t have party status in California or Ohio. We shouldn’t be able to influence the outcomes of their elections and they shouldn’t be able to affect the outcomes of ours.

    For that matter, a representative from my district should raise money from my district, and not from some town on the other side of the state. My state senators should not raise money from other counties.

    Yes, I understand that this would destroy the ATM and money laundering functions of the parties. That is a good thing. Perhaps they could actually become ideological foci rather than cash dispensers.

    I am reminded of the antebellum Whigs, when the term had become so debased that a person had to explain exactly which flavor of Whig he was. This is the situation for Republicans and Democrats today. All some members have in common is where their money comes from.

    Any legislator out there want to draft up a constituency requirement for fundraising? Anyone? Bueller?

  2. From the Late Tony Benn’s farewell speech to the UK Parliament in 2001, with my emphasis:

    “In the course of my life I have developed five little democratic questions. If one meets a powerful person — Adolf Hitler, Joe Stalin or Bill Gates — ask them five questions: ‘What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.”

    I would propose that we cannot presently get rid of Peter Shumlin. I am speaking pragmatically. In theory he could be voted out. In theory I could run for governor with $10 (or $10,000, or $100,000) in my pocket and win, but we know the unreality of that. Shumlin’s capacity to advertise, organize, and do oppo research is, in reality, unstoppable. The question of whether we should get rid of Shumlin or not is irrelevant to this line of inquiry.

    The point of this comment is not a critique of Shumlin or his policies. It is a critique of the structural defects in our electoral system.  

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