Remember a couple months ago, when House Minority Leader Don Turner hinted that a prominent business figure was mulling a run for Governor? Yeah, my response was to put Skip Vallee in a sombrero and publicly hope that he was The Guy. Purely for entertainment value, natch.
Well, once again, reality fails to match fantasy. According to WCAX-TV, which should at least have good contacts within GOP circles, the mystery businessman is Scott Milne, majordomo of Milne Travel and scion of a moderate Republican family — including former State Rep. Marion Milne, who was one of the few, the brave Republicans to vote in favor of civil unions back in the day. A vote that ended her State House career.
Milne, sez WCAX, “considers himself a moderate independent and wants to focus on the economy in Vermont.” Yep, making the right noises for the brand-spankin’-new Phil Scott VTGOP. And Milne, compared to Vallee, owns a business that provides the same level of public visibility without all the political baggage of, say, a fossil fuel distributorship suspected of price-fixing in the Burlington market.
Milne certainly seems a reasonable candidate. As does State Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, who failed to make a promised announcement last week but is still pondering a run.
And if I were in charge of the VTGOP, I’d be actively encouraging both of ’em to run.
Look, the odds are long on beating Governor Shumlin. Sure, his popularity is down; but he’s got a million bucks in his warchest without really trying, and the Dems are still a country mile ahead of the Repubs in terms of organization and resources. In these circumstances, a Milne/Scheuermann primary campaign would give the party a real jumpstart. The VTGOP would occupy the political spotlight for the rest of the spring and most of the summer. It could be a campaign of ideas, not recycled dogma or attacks. And those ideas would represent the new, moderate face of Republicanism that Phil Scott is trying to foster.
The primary would drain resources from the candidates, but the free publicity would be more than worth the sacrifice. Defeating Shumlin remains very unlikely in any event, but a Milne/Scheuermann contest would help put the VTGOP on the road back to electoral relevance. It’d beat the hell out of recycling Randy Brock or, ahem, Skip Vallee.
Now as for me, the liberal blogger, I’d rather see Bruce Lisman pull a Godzilla, bigfooting his way into the political spotlight without thought for the consequences. But after Peter “Scoop” Hirschfeld reported last Friday that Lisman was “seriously” considering a run, the retired Wall Street panjandrum kinda-sorta walked it back. Paul “The Huntsman” Heintz:
Reached Monday, the retired Bear Stearns exec claimed he told Hirschfeld nothing new – and that he’s no more “serious” now than he ever has been.
“I said, ‘People have been asking from the beginning [about a gubernatorial bid]. I take seriously what people ask me and tell me,'” Lisman clarified. “The word ‘seriously’ got moved around.”
That’s about the least impassioned version of the old “I was misquoted!” chestnut I’ve ever read. Lisman isn’t “seriously” considering a candidacy; he just “seriously” considers it when people tell him he ought to run.
Which, according to Lisman himself, people are doing all the time, and have been “from the beginning.” Uh-huh. Perhaps Bruce is unfamiliar with the concept of people kissing the asses of the rich and famous, telling them exactly what they want to hear.
It’s possible that Lisman is getting cold feet because the Democrats are apparently conducting some opposition research. I hear they’re trying to get reporters interested in Lisman’s infamous “Finding Skin” speech from 2010, chronicled by me in this space in the spring of 2012. That’s the speech where Lisman called the 2008 Wall Street meltdown “this thing that happened,” stated that economic growth should be the single priority of government, and effectively called for tax cuts for the rich and higher taxes on the working poor. (Because, see, the working poor don’t pay federal income tax, and thus they have “no skin in the game.”)
Speaking of opposition research, we should not forget Lisman’s membership in a secret Wall Street fraternity whose annual dinner apparently includes a whole lotta sexist and insensitive “entertainment.” Also, didja know that Lisman is a member of the Forbes Magazine Board of Directors? Has been for ten years. D’ya suppose he’s played a few rounds with Steve Forbes?
Ahem. I seem to have strayed from the theme of this diary. Bruce Lisman is one of those shiny objects that diverts my attention.
Anyway, Milne-Scheuermann: the rare primary contest that would do its party much more good than harm. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying I’d vote for either of them. But they’d bring a fresh profile to the VTGOP and diminish the clout of the dead-enders who led their party into the wilderness.