Tom Lauzon has carved out a reputation as a bit of a political showman, and at a press conference this morning in which seven of the state’s eight sitting mayors endorsed Peter Shumlin, Lauzon did not disappoint.
The Republican mayor of Barre City didn’t merely endorse the Democratic incumbent, he chided his party for even running a candidate against him.
“I think (Republican challenger) Randy (Brock) is absolutely a fine man,” Lauzon said. “But I think quite frankly this was an ill-advised campaign and people are going to spend a lot of money to try to replace a leader who doesn’t need to be replaced.”
Though he was the lone dyed-in-the-wool Republican on hand to endorse Shumlin, he was by far the most enthusiastic. Lauzon has come a long way since taping the anti-Shumlin robo-calls that rained on Vermont homes on the eve of the 2010 election.
“Brian (Dubie) was, is, and always will be a good friend,” Lauzon said.
But ever since Shumlin in early 2011 went to his house, had a sandwich, and talked things over, Lauzon said he’s been a happy member of Team Shumlin.
“When the governor said he’d like to come have lunch with me and sit in a private setting, I said, you know, here we go – it’s going to be robo-call revenge,” Lauzon said. “But I was struck at how anxious the governor was and how sincere he was to work with me. He said, ‘look, campaigns aside, difference aside, I want to make things better.’”
So why did Lauzon and his wife contribute a total of $4,000 to the Brock campaign?
It’s not that he supports the candidacy, Lauzon explained, but that he had to smooth things over with the GOP for so publicly getting behind Shumlin.
“I received a call from Mark Snelling. Mark said, ‘Republicans are very disappointed that you endorsed the governor.’ And I said, ‘yeah, I understand that Mark,’” Lauzon said. “And he said, ‘I’m very disappointed.’ I said, ‘Mark, I absolutely understand that …’ And he said, ‘if you send $4,000 then you’re off the hook.’ So I did.”
Not that it’ll make any difference, Lauzon said later.
“I have a lot of respect for Randy but quite frankly I think we could send him $40,000 and I don’t think it changes the result at the end of the day,” Lauzon said.
Lauzon tried to put it in perspective later, saying a $4,000 penance to get back in the good graces of the Republican Party isn’t so steep.
“I suppose over the years if I had to add up all the bouquets of flowers that I bought for (my wife) Karen and dinners that I bought when I was like, oh dammit, I was supposed to do that? I forgot,” Lauzon said to a few reporters after the press conference. “You know, it probably comes to a lot more than four grand.”
As for sharing the genesis of the $4,000 Brock contribution publicly, Lauzon said there’s no shame and nothing to hide.
“That’s the honest story. Mark called and said, ‘we’re really upset with you.’ I said, ‘Mark, I get it,’” Lauzon said. “So basically four grand got me of the hook and I wrote the check.”
And if Snelling is upset about the public airing of Republican’s dirty laundry?
“There’s nothing about this that’s private,” Lauzon said. “It was a conversation. I’ve been asked and I offered the truth. So, you know, if they don’t like it, I’m sorry. Don’t make the call again.”