Your Vermont Republican Alumni Catch-up Moment for Today

Hey, remember Corry Bliss? The guy who helped make Peter Shumlin our Governor by managing the Brian Dubie campaign into the ground? The guy last seen in Connecticut, squandering Linda McMahon’s pro-wrestling millions in a losing bid for a U.S. Senate seat?

Welp, I just Googled him, and guess what? He’s continuing the grand Republican campaign consultant tradition of failing upward. Following his latest sortie in Georgia (running an early favorite to a third-place finish), his record as a campaign manager is now a spectacular 0-7.

Makes Darcie Johnston look like David Axelrod, doesn’t he?

Let’s review some of the highlights of Bliss’ dismal career.

His disastrous management of McMahon’s campaign prompted this post-mortem by former Republican Congressman Chris Shays:

Corry Bliss… basically left Vermont in shambles, and he’s leaving Connecticut in shambles. But he’s got more money. He made more money.

Full disclosure: Shays had lost the Republican primary to McMahon’s millions before she went on to lose the general election. But Shays is certainly spot-on about Vermont in shambles; the VTGOP has never come close to recovering from Dubie’s loss. And who turned Jim Douglas’ right-hand man into a loser? VTDigger’s Anne Galloway:

Bliss has transformed Dubie through ads and press releases from the aw-shucks nice guy Vermonters generally liked into a candidate who has appeared to misrepresent the truth. …The campaign’s strategy in forums and debates, through bitter attacks on his opponent more than an explanation of Dubie’s own policy initiatives, has appeared to be a relentless attempt to characterize Democrat Peter Shumlin as untrustworthy and unethical.

So yeah, I’d say “shambles” is a fair assessment of Bliss’ impact on Vermont.

After the jump: failure upon failure, unto the present day.

Three of Bliss’ failures have been in his home state of Virginia. His first came in 2008 two years after he graduated from law school: he managed the unsuccessful re-election campaign of Republican Congresswoman Thelma Drake. In 2011, he ran the campaign of State Senate candidate John Stirrup. Bliss immediately began producing extremely negative campaign materials which destroyed the image of Stirrup as a nice guy. Sound familiar?

Then came his fruitless raid on McMahon’s bankbook. After that, Bliss went back to Virginia and somehow got himself hired by Joe May, a five-term incumbent in the House of Delegates with — wait for it — a “good guy” reputation. Guess what? May lost the Republican primary. By fifteen percentage points. And Bliss’ “nasty, vicious, dark” campaign tactics have been blamed.

This year, Bliss continued his untarnished-by-victory record as campaign manager for Karen Handel, former Georgia Secretary of State and one of seven candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.  A late April poll had Handel in a virtual tie for first place. Unfortunately, that didn’t last; she ran third in the May 20 primary, earning 22% of the vote. (The top two finishers, David Perdue and Jack Kingston, with 31% and 26% respectively, are competing in a runoff.) According to a Politico post-mortem, Handel fell short because “she failed to raise enough cash to compete with Kingston and Perdue in the expensive Atlanta media markets.” I guess Corry should restrict himself to self-funding gazillionaires in the future.

I dunno what Bliss’ next move will be. If there’s any justice — or any collective sanity among Republican candidates — it won’t be politics. In fact, to prepare for his next career, I’d suggest practicing the line, “Welcome to Subway. May I take your order?”  

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