Whistling past the elephants’ graveyard

Pity poor David Sunderland, the frantically busy, trolling-for-candidates chair of the VTGOP. GIven a sow’s ear of an electoral outlook, he did his best to sell it as a silk purse when he spoke with VTDigger’s Anne Galloway about his party’s “spirited attempt to win seats in the Statehouse.”

Er, Dave: is that “spirited” as in “energetic,” or as in “ghostly,” “spectral,” “dead”?  

Anyhoo, let’s see how Sunderland spins it.

The Republicans have recruited 36 new candidates running for House seats (with at least 74 running altogether) and they believe they have a shot at regaining enough seats to tip the balance of power in the Statehouse.

Two thoughts. First, 74 candidates for 150 seats is good news? And second, “tip the balance” as in, claim a majority???

Nah.

After three less-than-stellar election cycles – the state Republican Party hopes to push the Democrats out of their super majority status in the House.

A decidedly minimal definition of “tip the balance.” As for the Senate…

The GOP holds seven seats in the 30-member Senate, and they hope to gain at least three more. Republicans are targeting Sens. Don Collins, D-Franklin; Ann Cummings, D-Washington; Eldred French, D-Rutland, and John Rodgers, D-Essex/Orleans.

I could see them taking two; Collins barely won in 2012, and French was appointed to fill a vacancy. Knocking off Cummings, I think, is a pipe dream, even though Pat McDonald will be a relatively attractive candidate. I have no idea if Rodgers is vulnerable.  

But even so. Let’s say, best case, the GOP takes three in the Senate. They’re still stuck at one-third of the seats. And knocking the Dems from supermajority to “really substantial majority” isn’t exactly a dramatic leap toward electoral relevance.

The Dems aren’t sitting still, of course. They’re hoping to hold serve and perhaps even add a few seats. They’ll have a substantial organizational edge, which will help them target races where a Dem incumbent is threatened, or where a Dem challenger might win.

Meanwhile, still no news on the VTGOP’s desperate search for statewide candidates. Phil Scott may have precious little company on the ballot.  

This could have been the year of a Republican resurgence, with Scott offering a moderate face and Sunderland (a pretty conservative guy) to bridge the center/right gap. They’ve got a couple of big issues on their side: widespread dissatisfaction with property taxes and continued uncertainty about single-payer health care. Plus, there’s no Presidential or (U.S.) Senatorial race to drive Democratic turnout. Even with all those apparent advantages, the GOP’s best hope is to chip away at the Democrats’ huge Legislative majority.

It’s sad, really.  

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