Monthly Archives: March 2008

The story of the weekend

Friday afternoon, a few hours after Sen. Leahy became the day’s news after suggesting that Sen. Clinton should withdraw from the race, a few of us Vermont reporters were chatting about the development.

Several of us were a little dumbfounded that Leahy’s statement became such big news (Vermont Public Radio broke the story Friday morning and a link via Matt Drudge caused their server to crash for two hours).

Leahy has been an avid supporter of Sen. Obama, so his displeasure at Clinton was not surprising. And his statement did cap a week of good news for Obama, including several big endorsements and polls showing that he weathered the Wright controversy from earlier this month.

But watching the news cycle over the weekend made my realize the beauty in Leahy’s well-time suggestion: The story over the last three days became, "Should Clinton drop out of the race?"

That’s not what you want people asking when you are behind in the delegate count.

-Dan Barlow

Wally vs. Peter

Wally Edge, that odd anonymous editor over at, has his own farewell to Seven Days’ Peter Freyne and it’s not very nice.

-Dan Barlow

Freyne retires

Seven Days’ Peter Freyne announced this morning that he is hanging up his hat as a political blogger and columnist.

This guy will be missed. He made press conferences fun.

-Dan Barlow

Pollina gets major boost from key Democrat

With no Democratic running for the state’s top job, former Gov. Phil Hoff has crossed party lines to endorse Progressive Anthony Pollina in this year’s race.

The move comes as a surprise to a lot of people up in Montpelier. But it must be especially embarrassing for Democratic party leaders who, just two days ago, decided not to hold a meeting with Pollina right now.

Townshend resident Peter Galbraith, who is well-known on the national and international stage, is still thinking about running as a Dem. But after a round of meetings with grassroots party members and leaders earlier this year, that buzz has died down. There has been hardly a peep in recent weeks from Galbraith.

All these things seem to work toward Pollina’s advantage. I’ve spoken to several Dem activists who are eager to transition from the presidential primary work to gubernatorial campaign work. And they are now sniffing out Pollina as an option, since no one from their party has stepped up yet.

And in what may be the longest interview of the campaign so far this year, Philip Baruth has just posted a transcript of an extensive sit-down with Pollina at his blog. Happy reading.

-Dan Barlow

Official Vermont primary numbers

The Vermont Secretary of State’s Office sent over the official results of last week’s primary. And there are some interesting things to read in the tea leaves.

Nearly four in five voters that day choose the Democratic ballot – with 91,901 people supporting Barack Obama and 59,805 supporting Hillary Clinton. Dennis Kucinich got 1,010 votes, John Edwards got 1,936 and there were 307 write-in votes.

In all, 154,960 Vermonters voted for a Democrat.

On the Republican side, slightly more than 20 percent of voters took that party’s ballot. John McCain was the big winner with 28,417 votes. His closest competition was Mike Huckabee with 5,698 votes. Ron Paul trailed behind with 2,635 votes. Rudy Giuliani got 931 votes and Mitt Romney got 1,809 votes. There were 353 write-ins.

In all, 39,843 Vermonters voted for a Republican.

Further down the line, Liberty Union presidential candidate Brian Moore of Florida got only 178 votes. Write-in candidates for that party actually eclipsed his support, with 221 people adding in someone not on the ballot.

In all, 399 Vermonters voted for a Liberty Union candidate.

-Dan Barlow

Spitzer’s resignation

Did he really need to drag his wife out in front of the cameras again this week? That just seems mean.

Especially since it looks like she hasn’t stopped crying since this weekend (and who can blame her?).


Oh, the jokes

The Eliot Spitzer jokes began circulating around the Statehouse right away Tuesday morning as lawmakers returned to work from their town meeting break.

In one of the Senate committee rooms Tuesday morning, the jokes seemed to come like rapid fire from a machine gun.

"Hey, weren’t you in Washington at the same time?" one senator said to the other, referring to the New York governor’s tryst with a call girl in D.C. on Feb. 13.

"No, but I think the governor was," the senator responded.

"Oh, Jim Douglas wouldn’t pay $5,000 for anything," quipped another senator, this one a Republican, to a round of hearty laughter.

Interestingly, another senator recounted her early days as a social worker assigned to the seedier parts of Albany, N.Y. a few decades ago. One of her beats was a few of the Houses of Sin in the city, bringing welfare information to the ladies working there. She said it was pretty common to see N.Y. lawmakers coming in and out of those establishments.

-Dan Barlow

Huckabee’s speech

I thought Mike Huckabee’s concession, although a bit long now, sounds pretty good (is it Thursday already?). He’s a great speaker and the broad strokes he makes and the big themes he is hitting here are aimed right for the heart of his conservative supporters.

Looks like Vermont might be the only state going for Obama today. The early results are, well, early, but trend well in Clinton’s favor.

-Dan Barlow


I have CNN on in the background as I type up my story for tomorrow’s paper. And whomever the reporter is on there just now had this assessment of the Republican side of the race: "For better or worse"  John McCain is their presidential candidate.

And then Wolf Blitzer chimes in, "They’ve been bracing for this."

Oh, and it sounds like Mike Huckabee will drop out Thursday. If someone told me a year ago that McCain would be the Republicans’ guy, I would have thought you were crazy. Never place bets on politics, I guess.

-Dan Barlow

Mixed signals in Brattleboro

According to, voters in that Windham County town approved the resolution calling for Bush and Cheney’s indictment.

Meanwhile, voters there also choose not to elect several progressive members to the Select Board, and instead went for moderate and conservative picks.

-Dan Barlow

MSNBC exit polls for Vermont

According to MSNBC exit polls, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in every single category of voter in the state, except for those with a high school education or less. They went 56-44 for Clinton.

Have some fun looking at these numbers here.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal points out Vermont’s high number of delegates compared with its population. For example, Vermont has a superdelegate for every 78,000 people. In Texas, it is one superdelegate for every 672,000 people.

-Dan Barlow

Obama “blowout” in Vermont

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has seen the exit polls from Vermont and says it shows a "blowout" for Sen. Barack Obama.

Exit Polls for Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island are too close to reveal anything, he adds.

EDITED TO ADD: Wow, just as I was writing this, CNN calls the state for Obama and Sen. John McCain.

-Dan Barlow

Seen outside of the Montpelier polls


On Montpelier’s Main Street, one person used their truck to call for lower taxes (I assume that means voting against local school and town budgets).   


And inside City Hall in Montpelier, someone invokes Hillary Clinton’s youth and beauty as selling points for her candidacy.

Click the photos for larger pictures.

-Dan Barlow

Brattleboro’s anti-Bush vote

The folks over at have some nice photos of the polling place in Brattleboro, where residents will be asked if President Bush should be arrested. Check out the massive amounts of out-of-state media that are there!

I’m not making any guesses as to how that vote turns out. Brattleboro is a blue town in a blue county, sure, but there has been a lot of push-back against the vote from activists who had previously supported the impeachment efforts there and at the Statehouse.

-Dan Barlow

Sen. Doyle predicts record turnout today

Sen. William Doyle told residents at Waterbury’s town meeting this morning that he predicts today’s presidential primary turnout will set a record for Vermont.

"There’s no race in the Republican primary,” Doyle said, shortly before the town meeting began at 9 a.m. in the Thatcher Brook Primary School gymnasium. Sen. John McCain appears to have a lock on the party’s presidential nomination, and Doyle is a McCain supporter

But the senator said people casting ballots in the Democratic primary have a chance to help make history by nominating either the first female presidential candidate or the first African American, referring to Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama. That race, Doyle said, is where the action is.

“Most people are going to focus on the Democratic primary,” he said.

It’s impossible to know how Waterbury voters are going in that race because the polls don’t close until 7 tonight. But the turnout this morning was steady, with lines of voters waiting at some points for the voting booths to open.

Spotted casting his ballot was former Vermont Attorney General Jeffrey Amestoy, a Waterbury resident.

-Sue Allen