Monday, December 12, 2011

As the Regime Changes: Caucus Edition

In the final days before Democrats in Burlington chose a candidate for mayor, a debate erupted over skate park funding. But even hotter topics are ahead. Here is a preview of things to come in the People’s Republic: Mayor’s race turns to trust and skate park funding Also, the outcome of the dueling Democratic and Progressives caucuses: Weinberger wins...Progressives Delay...
Listening parties: from left, Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss, Republican candidate 
Kurt Wright, possible Independent candidate Karen Paul, and Democrats 
Norm Blais, David Berezniak, and Joan Shannon.

Yes, it was down to the wire. Who would win the Democratic caucus – Progressive turned Democratic Senator Tim Ashe or Airport Commissioner and housing developer Miro Weinberger? Would the Progressives field a candidate if Ashe didn’t win? Had Republican Kurt Wright already previewed his campaign strategy? And what was with that recent City Council vote to reconsider skate park funding? So many questions, and even more to come.

Here’s another: should non-citizens in Burlington get the right to vote? That’s coming up soon on Vermont’s leading political soap opera: As the Regime Changes.
Shortly after my latest article was filed, former Gov. Howard Dean endorsed Weinberger for mayor. A few days later the housing developer defeated State Senator Tim Ashe at the conclusion of the Democratic caucus. But even more interesting, Republican leaders announced that State Auditor Randy Brock will be their unity candidate for Vermont governor next year against incumbent Peter Shumlin. During his announcement speech, Brock offers a red meat attack rich in subtext:
"If my travels around this state have taught me anything, it is this: Vermonters don’t want to live in a 'laboratory for change.' They don’t want to be the guinea pigs or lab rats in a grand social experiment."
Wow! Human guinea pigs trapped in a laboratory for change. Now that's a reality TV concept. If this is the starting point, the campaign should be interesting.

A few days later, during a press conference with Bernie Sanders in Burlington on the launch of a new multi-million research center, the governor responded -- in a way -- by embracing the idea that, on energy and more, being a laboratory for change is precisely the idea.
Masters of the (Smart) Grid: GMP Chief Powell, Gov. Shumlin, Sen. Sanders, and
Sandia VP Rick Stulen announce a Sandia-led Vermont lab. (12/12/11)

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