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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Opinion
Walters: Hallquist Exits Primary in the Red, Scott Kickstarts Fundraising

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 2:40 PM

Christine Hallquist greets supporters on primary night - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Christine Hallquist greets supporters on primary night
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist emerged from Vermont's primary Tuesday with her party's nomination — but with no money in her campaign fund. Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who'd been fundraising and spending at a rather leisurely rate through mid-July, began shaking the money tree in earnest during the run-up to primary day.

Wednesday night marked a deadline for filing campaign finance reports. Hallquist, the former CEO of the Vermont Electric Coop, reported raising  $40,000 in the past month, and a total of $157,000 for the entire cycle — including $18,000 in loans to her own campaign. At the same period in the 2016 election cycle, Democratic nominee Sue Minter had raised more than $1 million.

Hallquist has spent $159,000, which leaves her about $2,000 underwater. She is hoping to get a big boost in donations following a flood of national news coverage of her primary win, which made her the first openly transgender major-party candidate for governor in U.S. history. She will need it.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Opinion
Walters: Hallquist Enjoying Flood of Media Attention After Primary Win

Posted By on Wed, Aug 15, 2018 at 3:42 PM

Christine Hallquist - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Christine Hallquist
Thanks to the historic dimension of her candidacy, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Christine Hallquist suddenly finds herself thrust into the national spotlight.

"We're drowning," said campaign manager Cameron Russell. "We're just trying to field as many [interview requests] as we can."

It's a nice problem to have.

Hallquist, former CEO of the Vermont Electric Coop, won Tuesday's four-way Vermont primary with more than 40 percent of the vote, according to unofficial totals from the Secretary of State. Her nearest competitor, water quality advocate James Ehlers, was a distant second at 19 percent. The result means that Hallquist is the first openly transgender person to win a major-party nomination for governor.

The media interest began building in the days before the primary, but hit full force as Hallquist's victory became official. "She was on CNN last night and [Wednesday] morning," said Russell. "She's been interviewed by NPR, the BBC, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, MSNBC, TMZ and Fox."

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Opinion
Walters: Ehlers Dances Around Gun Restrictions

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 2:01 PM

James Ehlers - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • James Ehlers
On Thursday night, Democratic gubernatorial candidate James Ehlers expressed serious reservations about S.55, one of the three gun bills that became law in Vermont this year.

"There are elements of S.55 that aren't going to make things safer," he said, and added that the legislation puts "Vermonters in the position of feeling that they are breaking the law."

His words were very similar to those of Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans), a Democratic write-in candidate for governor and strong supporter of gun rights. "All we did was turn law-abiding citizens into criminals," Rodgers said in an August 2 debate sponsored by VTDigger.org and Burlington's Channel 17.

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Opinion
Walters: Scott Names New Vermont Education Secretary

Posted By on Thu, Aug 2, 2018 at 5:11 PM

Gov. Phil Scott and soon-to-be Education Secretary Dan French - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Gov. Phil Scott and soon-to-be Education Secretary Dan French
Gov. Phil Scott announced at a press conference Thursday that he has chosen Dan French as Vermont's next education secretary.

French, 55, a longtime educator who has served at every level of the state public school system, will begin on August 13.

He began his career as a high school teacher in Canaan, Vt., and moved up to school principal and superintendent in the same district. French served as superintendent of the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union from 2007 until 2016, when he became coordinator of the School Leadership graduate program at Saint Michael's College. He lives in Manchester Center.

French replaces Rebecca Holcombe, who resigned with only a few days' notice on April 1. The state Board of Education received a total of 14 applications for the position, and forwarded three finalists to the governor in late May. When asked why it took him more than two months to choose among the three, Scott cited two factors: "First, it was an important decision," he said. "And second, we had to get through the legislative session," which extended into late June.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Opinion
Walters: Scott Boasts of Labor Force Growth in Vermont

Posted By on Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 5:45 PM

Gov. Phil Scott - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Gov. Phil Scott
Armed with some carefully crafted charts, Republican Gov. Phil Scott has claimed a significant milestone in the health of Vermont's economy. At a Wednesday press conference outside the Department of Labor building in Montpelier, he said that his "6-3-1" mantra no longer applies because the state's workforce has made a turnaround.

Scott has frequently cited "6-3-1" as a measure of Vermont's economic and social stagnation. He claimed that Vermont was losing six people from the workforce every day, there were three fewer kids in public schools every day, and one baby was born every day to an opiate-addicted mother.

Since November, Scott said, roughly 4,400 people have joined Vermont's workforce, which grew from 345,000 to 349,400. That's a 1.3 percent increase. Its size was dramatically magnified in the chart shown above, which covers an eight-month period and ranges from 344,000 to 350,000.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Opinion
Walters: Vermont Likely to See Short-Term Revenue Boost

Posted By on Fri, Jul 27, 2018 at 5:34 PM

State economists Jeffrey Carr (left) and Tom Kavet - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • State economists Jeffrey Carr (left) and Tom Kavet
Vermont's state economists are forecasting continued revenue growth in the next two years, with a downturn likely after that. They estimate an additional $33 million in revenue in fiscal year 2019, which just began on July 1, and another $18 million the following fiscal year.

Tom Kavet and Jeffrey Carr presented their consensus report Friday afternoon to the Emergency Board, a panel that includes Gov. Phil Scott and the chairs of the four legislative money committees: House Appropriations, House Ways and Means, Senate Appropriations and Senate Finance.

"Any way you slice it, this is an upgrade," Carr told the board. "We have a reasonably positive outlook on the economy, at least in the near term."

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Opinion
Media Note: Lawmaker Claims Bias By Weekly Newspaper

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 6:28 PM

The County Courier's disclosure - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • The County Courier's disclosure
A controversy has erupted in Enosburg, the home turf of the weekly County Courier newspaper. You see, the paper’s owner, publisher and chief reporter, Gregory Lamoureux, happens to be in a relationship with Felisha Leffler, the Republican challenger to Rep. Cindy Weed (P-Enosburg Falls). And Weed believes that Lamoureux has his thumb on the scale.

Weed cites articles published during the legislative session “bashing me on the issues." She said, "The articles align with [Leffler’s] positions.” Weed's chief complaint concerns stories about this year's debate over proposed gun laws, which Weed supported.

"The gun stories ran before my girlfriend was a candidate," Lamoureux contended. "I didn't know she was thinking about [running]."

Weed also complains of the paper’s restrictive policy on letters to the editor. The Courier almost never publishes letters from candidates or their close relatives during campaigns and has a limit of one letter per supporter per campaign.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Opinion
Walters: Former Sanders Adviser Named in Manafort Trial Documents

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2018 at 6:30 PM

Tad Devine - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Tad Devine
Tad Devine, who served as senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) 2016 campaign for president, got an unwelcome reminder of his political past Thursday: His name appears on numerous exhibits in the prosecution of Paul Manafort, the former chair of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

Devine worked with Manafort on the 2006 and 2010 campaigns of Viktor Yanukovych for president of Ukraine. Yanukovych won in 2010, but he was forced from power in 2014 after concerns about his pro-Russian policies sparked a popular uprising. Yanukovych fled to Russia; he is wanted in Ukraine on charges of high treason.

Manafort faces trial in federal court starting July 24 on bank fraud and tax-related charges. The office of special prosecutor Robert Mueller released a list of more than 500 potential exhibits Thursday; the list includes 16 emails, email chains, memos and invoices involving Devine, Manafort and others in the years 2006, 2010-12 and 2014.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Opinion
Walters: Sanders' Campaign Has $7.6 Million in Cash

Posted By on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 at 3:14 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: ADAM BURKE
  • File: Adam Burke
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) may only face a field of long-shot challengers in his bid for reelection, but he continues to raise money as if his political future depended on it.

In his latest Federal Election Commission filing, which covers April through June, Sanders' senatorial campaign fund, "Friends of Bernie Sanders," reported $1.43 million in donations and $749,000 in expenditures, lifting its cash-on-hand total to $7.58 million.

The donations came entirely from individuals; he took no money from corporations or political action committees. Most of the expenditures were for Sanders' extensive travel and public appearances, and for staffing. His campaign has five paid staffers, including longtime Sanders ally Jeff Weaver, whose twice-monthly salary is just under $8,000 — an annualized rate of roughly $190,000.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Opinion
Walters: Campaign Donations Are Light in Race for Governor

Posted By on Sun, Jul 15, 2018 at 11:20 PM

Gov. Phil Scott - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Gov. Phil Scott
The campaign for governor of Vermont is looking like a bargain-basement affair. Sunday night was a campaign-finance filing deadline for state candidates — the first such deadline since March 15, and the last one before the August 14 primary. In short, it's a notable milestone on the campaign trail. And none of the gubernatorial candidates set themselves apart financially.

Perhaps the most surprising development was a poor showing by incumbent Republican Phil Scott. He took in $93,000 in the past three months, bringing his total campaign haul to $214,000. He has already spent $177,000, so his cash on hand was less than $40,000. (He also had $19,000 in surplus funds from his 2016 campaign.) On the same date two years ago, Scott's campaign had raised $764,000, so he was well behind his 2016 pace.

His GOP challenger, Keith Stern, had not filed an update as of late Sunday.

Turning to the Democrats, former utility executive Christine Hallquist reported a three-month total of $89,000 in donations, and $132,000 for her campaign to date. She has spent most of her take and had about $23,000 on hand.

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