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Friday, May 5, 2017

Montpeculiar: Sen. Dick Mazza, Statehouse Tie Broker

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 5:56 PM

click to enlarge Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden), left, and Sen. Dick Mazza (D-Grand Isle) model their ties Friday. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden), left, and Sen. Dick Mazza (D-Grand Isle) model their ties Friday.
Sen. Dick Mazza (D-Grand Isle) cuts a commanding figure with his broad frame, solemn suits and wizened face. His appearance complements his reputation as a powerful backroom dealmaker in the Statehouse.

But Mazza is also known for his flamboyant ties — fuchsia, ultramarine, lavender — matched with a pocket square and a satiny cloth rose pinned to his lapel.

While it's common knowledge that the Colchester grocer has the ear of both Republican Gov. Phil Scott and Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden), few are aware that his influence extends into both men's wardrobes.

click to enlarge montpeculiar2.jpg
Mazza's main objective: Liven up the neckwear of the two most powerful men in the Statehouse. Scott and Ashe are currently embroiled in budget negotiations with one another, as well as with House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero).

The fashion fix-up started with Scott, for whom Mazza estimates he has purchased at least a dozen ties over the years. "He’s very difficult. He doesn’t like to dress [up]. He'll come over here in work boots," Mazza said Thursday, standing outside the governor's ceremonial office.

More recently, he decided that Ashe, too, required a fashion intervention. "He's a pretty important guy now," Mazza said.

But the pro tem's tie game wasn't fit for his elevated status, Mazza concluded. "Oh god, they were so drab. He’s got one — I mean you could wear it to a funeral," the senior senator observed.

Enter Mazza. "I love shopping. I'm a shopper," he emphasized. He's also a bargain hunter, preferring to buy from discount outlets such as Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.

What about JCPenney or Macy's? Mazza scoffed. "Too expensive."

Ties, he maintains, shouldn't cost more than $20. He's amassed more than 200 for his own collection. But he knows better than to try to impose his sartorial sensibilities.

"Phil likes soft reds and very soft purple," said Mazza. "I know exactly what he’ll wear. I haven’t missed yet. He’s worn every one so far."

Scott recalled Mazza telling him he needed to brighten up his wardrobe, and confirmed that he does indeed wear the senator's ties on occasion.

Ashe, the recipient of three Mazza ties so far, sported a plaid one Friday. "He's been trying to lighten them up a bit," said the pro tem. "The dour person I am, it's an adjustment."

Next on Mazza's agenda: "I think I’m gonna try him on one of these," he said, patting his own turquoise pocket square. "I’m gonna try to push him over the edge."

Disclosure: Tim Ashe is the domestic partner of
Seven Days publisher and coeditor Paula Routly. Find our conflict-of-interest policy here: sevendaysvt.com/disclosure


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Alicia Freese

Alicia Freese

Bio:
Alicia Freese is a Seven Days staff writer.

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