As fun as this is, at some point it becomes a problem.

The cream in Dave Sunderland’s Monday morning coffee must have curdled when he read Anne Galloway’s assessment of the VT Dems’ “deep pockets, star power, organizational prowess and messaging discipline,” none of which are present in any meaningful quantity in his own VTGOP.

Galloway’s piece began with a lengthy recounting of the Curtis Award dinner, a night of self-congratulation and further widening of the money gap and enthusiasm gap between the two “major” parties.

The Vermont Democratic Party is now so big, so powerful and so rich going into this election cycle that there is little doubt, observers say, that the Dems will hold on to all of the current statewide seats and huge majorities in the House and Senate.

… no one in politics has any doubt that the Democrats rule the state and will continue to do so into the near future. The Vermont Democratic Party has practically absorbed the Progressives, has weakened the Republicans to super minority status and the Liberty Union candidates are barely on the fringe.

And after all that, Galloway brings down the financial hammer.

The final blow to Vermont Republicans is the Dems’ effective capture of the state’s most important business interests. Many big donors who have given to Lt. Gov. Phil Scott are now contributors to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has made an effort to appeal to fiscal conservatives, and has a $1 million war chest. While the Dems have about $150,000 in the bank (plus the proceeds from the Curtis awards dinner), the GOP has $34,000 left going into the election.

Gee, I wonder where all the money from that Chris Christie fundraiser went. Maybe there wasn’t that rich a take after all.  

Galloway’s analysis is an important update on Paul “The Huntsman” Heintz’ must-read column from last December, which recounted a fundraiser for Shumlin hosted by a deep-pocketed Republican donor and attended by many more of the same — all eager to write checks to the Governor.

Whether or not you agree with Shumlin’s mollification of center-right business interests, it’s clear that in terms of political power, the strategy has paid off, big time. Sunderland and Scott are trying to broaden the VTGOP, but it may already be too late: as long as the money guys believe they can do better as the camel inside the Democratic tent than outside, the Republicans are well and truly screwed.

The lasting legacy of “Angry Jack” Lindley, methinks. Plus the complete abdication of the political field by everyone in the Jim Douglas administration. The only one I know who’s gotten involved in politics this year is ex-Ag Sec Roger Allbee, and he’s running as a Democrat.

So, ridin’ high on the hog are Shumlin and Co. Which calls for regular structural inspections for creeping rot belowdecks. This kind of one-party dominance rarely ends well, as I’ve written before on more than one occasion. The continuing troubles with Vermont Health Connect, as understandable as they are (big new government programs are always buggy at first), may be early signs of lax administration. When you don’t face any real competition, you tend to get a little lazy. And laziness can lead to bungling, corruption, scandal, and disgrace.

While I welcome a little schadenfreude with my morning egg & toast, I’d really like to see the Republicans emerge as meaningful competition. Give the Dems an occasional scare. It’d be better for our state, and for the vitality of the liberal movement in Vermont.  

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