VT-Gov Candidate profile Doug Racine (it posted okay this time)

My internship with the Dubie campaign is over.  Here is a profile of one of the candidates for governor, Doug Racine.

Racine has been a state senator from 1983-1992, including three years as senate president pro Tempore. From 1997-2003 he was the Lieutenant governor of Vermont under Howard Dean. He ran for governor in 2002 against Jim Douglas and lost 45-42-13. In 2006 he was elected senator from Chittenden County, the most populated County in the state.

Advantages: Leadership, experience, location and name recognition. As president pro Tempore, he was in charge of the democratic caucus, and helped draft and pass tough budgets in the recession of 91. On Racine’s site he boasts his 25 years experience in government. Six years as lieutenant governor, 12 combined years as a senator, 3 as leadership, people know who he is. Since he’s from Chittenden county, he has home field advantage in an area which could have anywhere from ¼ to ½ of the democratic primary electorate.  Further, no other candidate is from North Western Vermont, meaning his support won’t be diluted through regional means. He has already announced his issue (to be discusses later) as healthcare calling for a single payer system in Vermont.  He has the backing of three major unions, which could help with GOTV. Plus Racine has already faced and defeated his republican opponent, Brian Dubie, before, back in 2000.

Disadvantages: It’s been how long since he was relevant? Racine has long since been yesterday’s news, he just can’t seem to handle that. His primary senatorial experience was in the eighties, his leadership in the last year of the eighties and first year of the nineties, and lieutenant governor experience in the mid nineties. Further, he’s already had his chance to become governor in 2002 and lost a race that should have been his. He is essentially the AL Gore of the race (Circa 2002). His main experience was decades ago, his 2nd in command experience was years ago, he lacked the charisma of his counter part (Howard Dean) and he only re-entered politics in 2006 to set himself up to try again to be governor. He was the first to announce his intent, only to get attention as the only candidate in the race. Also in regards to healthcare, one, Shumlin Co-opted that issue earlier this year and two look at how well that issue worked for Obama and national democrats. His fundraising has been subpar, he’s raised less than anyone but Susan Bartlett putting him fourth of the five candidates, despite being in the race the longest.  His only ad is somewhat boring and claims “our way of life is under attack,” without saying what is attacking our way of life.  He seemed fear mongering, but doing it very opaquely. His time has passed.




VT-Gov profile Peter Shumlin

My internship with the Dubie campaign ended as I’m returning to school next week.  since the democratic primary is ending as well, I thought I would post some candidate profiles I wrote for a class before I started my internship. I’ve given them some updating as a lot has happened in the 4-5 months since I wrote them.  I’m starting with senate pro-tem Peter Shumlin.


A game theory analysis of elections, or why Jim Bunning is only pretending to be crazy

In game theory there is game called entrance deterrence.  The idea is that when a person or firm challenges an incumbent it goes along two nodes of thought.  The first is the challenger’s decision to go against the incumbent.  The second is whether the incumbent fights the challenger, or defers to him.  This game will be able to predict both what Specter and what Bunning are doing this election season.

If the challenger decides not to play, his payout is 0 for the challenger and 2 for the incumbent.  If the challenger decides to fight, then it’s the incumbents turn to make a decision.  If the incumbent fights then his payout will be -1 to the challengers 0, and if he defers to the challenger it will be a payout of 1 to each.

As two-bit challengers appear against incumbents from time to time, it should be clarified that this game only applies when two factors are present.  The first is that the incumbent is in danger of losing his election either due to his low popularity, or his opponent’s high popularity.  The second factor is that there is gain from leaving the senate, such as a high paying job, or prestige of being a retired senator who didn’t lose.  

An example of this is the election of Mark Warner.  Last cycle John Warner was considering retirement, but wasn’t sure.  Mark Warner threw out hints that he would run.  John could say that he will fight mark regardless of what mark does, but that is unlikely.  The payoffs show that should mark run, and john fight, john will have a payout of -1, worse than his payout of 1 should he defer to mark, and retire gracefully.  

This payout comes from john either losing a fierce election with mark, ending his long running senate career in disgrace, or eking out a bare win, where he will be in the extreme minority, and his reputation still varnished.  Thus, when it became clear that john’s plans not to retire were bluffs, he realized the most logical move would be to retire.  This is what happened.  If you replace mark with Toomey (scary I know) and Warner with specter, you have the reasons why specter will retire should Toomey run.  There are variables of course, but if specter can’t independents in the primary he will retire, soon after, or shortly before Toomey announces.  

This should suggest that Bunning will retire, as a plausible republican challenger would defeat him, but there is a flaw in this plan.  This all depends on logic, Bunning’s potential challenger has to realize the payouts described above, as does Bunning.  If Bunning is Crazy, and playing illogically, then the challenger won’t play.  Why bother running, when your payoff will be 0 either way.  Either 0 for not running, or 0 for losing to bunning/winning but getting beaten up, to go onto lose to your democratic opponent.  This is what bunning wants us to think.

I theorize that he understands this game and the payouts, that’s why he has been playing up the whole “I’m crazy” shtick of late.  He’s trying to convince his opponents that he would not act logically at this game.  That if he was challenged he might defer, he might fight, he might find a third option.  Either way it would be better not to enter at all.  The reasoning is that the number of votes he loses by acting crazy is less than that he’d lose by losing the primary (where the general election votes are irrelevant) or winning the primary bloodied up and broke.  

This assumes that he’s sane, eccentric, but sane.  He has had a tendency to act weird, but the type of crazy being described here is not that of bunning.  It suggests a sincere lack of logic, not simply acting weird.  Take Bunning’s performance back in 2004, it’s weird, but not illogical.  Considering his money, the partisan tilt of Kentucky, and the fact that bush was expected to do well, he probably figured he could phone it in.  Lazy and stupid, but there was logic to it.

Furthermore, consider his recent acts of

crazy.  It’s all stuff that only would anger liberals, and the political class.  Suggesting that Ginsberg will die soon, picking fights with Cornyn and the NRCC, it’s not the kind of stuff that would anger conservative primary voters.  He’s not expecting much help from either the political class or liberals to begin with, so there’s little to nothing to lose by fighting with them.  There is logic in his eccentricities.  

This of course assumes that bunning is eccentric, but not illogical.  If he is in fact crazy crazy then everything stated is wrong, but the only way to tell that is to wait until a challenger appears and see what he does.  If he defers, then bunning is still logical, if he keeps on trucking, he’s not.  If no challenger appears then all we will know is that it worked.  

Game theory has numerous applications in politics that are still being understood.  This game shows why other politicians retired and will show why specter will retire.  It will also do what few thought possible: explain Jim Bunning.

VT-Gov 2010 Racine’s in, Douglas proposes changing school funding, Spaulding will decide soon.

During the 2008 gubernatorial season democrats waited until May to field a candidate.  This cycle, Vermont democrats stepped up with Doug Racine announcing that he would take on Jim Douglas come 2010.  Racine was a former Lite governor who lost to Douglas in 2002, 47-44.  

“Racine, 56, who expects to return as chairman of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, said he is focused on the 2009 legislative session. He said he informed several Douglas administration officials Monday of his plans to run for governor and that he doesn’t expect it to affect his work with them.”

There have also been rumblings of stronger candidates mounting a challenge against Douglas.  

“Several high-profile Democrats are considering a run, amid pressure from party activists to get an early start. State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding said he’s still considering a run and expects to decide within a few months.”

Spaulding has been Treasurer since 2002, is the president of the national association of state treasurers, and was a state senator from1995-2001.  This would make him one of the strongest candidates to challenge Douglas since Racine’s first challenge back in 2002.  He will decide within three months.  

The race is also complicated by Douglas’ recent proposals to deal with the recession.  The biggest issue will be scrapping act 68, the way that Vermonters pay for education, without offering any sort of alternative way to fund education.  

“If local school boards want to spend more per pupil than they are doing in the current year, any additional funds would have to be paid for entirely by local residential property taxpayers. Income sensitivity provisions – under which homeowners pay school taxes based on income, not property values – would not apply.”

Reopening this can of worms could potentially weaken Governor Douglas’ popularity.  Normally Douglas survives by not doing or proposing anything too controversial, then benefits from the independence of the electorate and the left far left split.  A violent education battle could be the issue that makes Douglas vulnerable.

If Douglas is indeed weakened by the education battle or seems weak, then Spaulding will most likely join the fray, as could sec of state Deb Markowitz.  If however Douglas runs for re-election, and doesn’t appear vulnerable, Racine will have the nomination all to himself, and will most likely face a three way race with Anthony Pollina.  Pollina was the progressive turned independent who beat Gaye Symington in the 2008 election.  

If Douglas retires, the election will quickly become bedlam.  The Vermont political scene is constipated, with every statewide official, as well as many aspiring state senators and mayors stuck.  Should Douglas retire, plethora of positions open up.  The governors seat will free up first, then the lite govs seat, if lite gov Brian Dubie runs for governor, or retires.  From there, Markowitz and Spaulding will run hopefully for those two positions, or will primary each other for the governor’s seat.  This will open the treasurer’s position and secretary of state.  If Douglas retires, Racine will most likely lose the primary battle, and democrats will be favored for all of the aforementioned positions.  There are some wildcards however.

1. Leahy retirement/Death:  in his seventies, Leahy could decide to retire in 2010 giving Douglas and Dubie the option to run for senate.  They passed on the open seat in 2006, but both knew they couldn’t beat Bernie Sanders.  For the democrats the only dems who could win would be Markowitz, Spaulding and current House rep Peter Welch.  Welch is popular, but Douglas and Dubie have been on the statewide scene the longest.  This would be his only chance to become a senator as Bernie will almost certainly run for re-election in 2012.  By the time an open seat comes up in 2016 or 2018 Welch will be 67-70. 67-70 Year olds do not run for freshman terms in the senate unless they know they can’t win.  By 2016/2018 Welch will have seniority and will probably be looking towards either a good committee assignment, house leadership role, or cabinet position depending on who wins in 2016.   With Markowitz and Spaulding, who knows?

2.  Howard Dean returns to Vermont politics:  there haven’t been any rumblings of this, but with the whole “Obama is dissing Dean Meme” it’s possible that dean will return to Vermont either to run for senator if there’s a retirement or governor again.  I put the chances in the low single digits, but were it to happen, it would change everything.  

3.  Further economic downturns.  Who knows how this could affect the race, but it probably will.



vermont Gov election updates

For months now Democrats have merely been in the speculative phase in terms of having a candidate for governor.  First “Young Dunne,” former state legislator Matte Dunne who nearly took down Brian Dubie two years floated his name, but reneged.  Peter Gailbraith, a former ambassador had been floating his name, but he was a second tier candidate at best, without any legislative or executive experience to speak of.  Meanwhile, “Tony the Prog,” Anthony Pollina, a perennial candidate for the progressive party announced that he was running, and hoped for a two man race. This was a rather sad state of affairs, considering how strongly democratic Vermont is, and the opportunity that a surge of democratic voters in the presidential election could bring us.  Then House Speaker Gaye Symington announced that she was going to run, challenging incumbent governor Jim Douglas.  

With four years experience as speaker of the house, and a progressive record on health care, the economy, and childcare issues, she is clearly a top tier candidate.  Speaker Symington has been a legislator for twelve years, first elected to the house in 1996.  During her freshman term as a legislator, she worked to pass Act-60, the plan that funds Vermont’s education system.  After democrats lost the legislature following backlash from both the aforementioned Act 60, and civil unions, Speaker Symington helped bring the democrats back into the majority in both the house and senate, and they now enjoy a 2/3 majority in both houses.  It is because of this, I am asking the netroots to look into Speaker Symington, and contribute.  Her website http://symingtonforgovernor.com/ is a bit primitive at the moment, but should be enhanced soon (at least it better be).

Despite her qualifications, she still faces steep odds, especially in a three way race.  Under the Vermont Constitution, if none of the candidates receive a majority of the votes, then the legislature chooses the governor.  Jim Douglas was elected in 2002 with 45% of the vote to Doug Racine’s 42%.  The democratic legislature chose Douglas as he was the vote leader, despite having the votes to elect Racine.  This occurred as many legislators were asked by opponents and constituents to pledge to vote for the popular vote winner.  With Anthony Pollina in the race, this will most likely happen again.  Symington however, may be planning to just keep Douglas under 50% in an attempt to get the legislature to elect her, who knows?  

Currently there are not any polls on the race, but the race will most likely become a fight for moderates.  Douglas will keep his base on the right (the 5,000 people who voted for Huckabee in the republican primary) and right of center moderates, Symington will aim for left of center moderates and Pollina will consoldate the far left progressives.  Both Scudder Parker in 2006 and Peter Clavelle in 2004 (a former independent mayor of Burlington) aimed for the far left and left of center moderates and couldn’t get better than 41%.

With an expected surge in democratic votes, Symington may be able to benefit in ways former gubernatorial candidates could not.  2006 nominee Scudder Parker (his real name) only managed 41% despite the overwhelmingly democratic year. Others however, were able to capitalize on the strong democratic leanings of the elections.  Brian Dubie, the republican LT. Governor barely received a majority of votes (51%).  Had he not received a majority, the legislature could have chosen democratic nominee Matt Dunne as LT Governor.  Tom Salmon son of a former governor of the same name, managed a narrow victory over incumbent Randy Brock to become the newest auditor of accounts.  These democrats were able to utilize the strong democrats tide of 2006, and Symington can and will utilize the democratic leanings of 2008, all she needs to get elected is your support?  Will you step up?  

caucus fun, which candidate (dem and/or rep) reminds you of which super hero super villian

Before tonight’s caucus, when everything becomes so much more serious, let’s have some fun with the candidates, comparing them to super heroes and villains.  From comics, or movies, whatever, here are a few of mine.  Ron Paul: Mister Mxyzptlk.  Hero, villain, space imp?  What the hell is he?  This could also go for kucinich.  Fred Thompson: the penguin.  Not that much of villain (except the Danny Devito version) kind of bland, and dull.  Guiliani/clinton: lex luthor.  Scheming, conniving, manipulating, face of “the man.”

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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some christmas fun, worst possible appointments for hillary/obama’s seat

we’ve had so much fun imagining who spitzer/blago might appoint to the senate should hillary/obama win the presidency, let’s think about who the WORST appointees would be.

Obama’s seat: Oprah.  controversal, unqualified and too much quid pro quo.

Hillary’s: fran dreshure (is that spelled right?)  she’s actually said in us news washington whispers that she wants the seat.

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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NM sen Pearce is in.

the story was announced over at wapo.  i’m in class now, but here’s the article.


A primary will certainly help even the odds if we have a don’t have a clear candidate, and pearce, despite leading in polls, is more likely to lose due to being further right than the state as a whole.  plus, now his seat’s in play, not REALLY in play, but more than before.

could a tight win in ma-05 be a good thing?

Tomorrow, as we all know, voters in Massachusetts fifth district will vote en masse (10% if that) in the special election to replace Marty Meehan.  Despite the overwhelmingly liberal lean of the district, many have become worried due to the lackluster campaign of Niki Tsongas.  Despite the strong personal story of Jim Ogonowski, and Tsongas’ poor campaign, I strongly doubt she’ll lose simply because it’s Massachusetts.  I could easily be wrong of course, that’s just my thought. 

  To the point however, should she win by a hair, (by which I’d classify by less than five percent) this might prompt Ogonowski to challenge john Kerry in the senate race.  Hackett almost beat Schmidt, then tried to challenge dewine and I think the same could happen here.  The biggest reason for this is that the Massachusetts republicans have a practically nonexistent bench.  Hackett was forced out for the 06 senate race, but the Ohio dems had an okay bench back then, no where as good as it is now, but not as bad the Massachusetts republicans.  If Ogonowski is drafted to challenge Kerry, the NRSC may be tempted to throw away millions into a race ultimately they can’t win without a massive anti-democratic/anti-incumbent mood.  Millions wasted there is millions that can’t be spent in Alaska, Nebraska ect etc.  a close race won’t look good on paper, but somehow I doubt it’ll be remembered in November.  So tomorrow, let’s hope for a victory, just one small enough for them to get Ogonowski to jump into the senate race.