Hours after alleging publicly that Campaign for Vermont founder Bruce Lisman has his eyes on governor’s seat, Mark Snelling apologized to the former Wall Street executive for the “mistake.”
In an email to Lisman Thursday night, Snelling wrote:
I owe you an apology.
I was doing an interview and I was trying to make a point about future elections and the dynamics of the various parties and how they can interact along with possible third parties.
To make my point, I spoke about your organization and made statements about which I have no first-hand knowledge.
It was a discussion where CFV was a tangent and I should not have gone down that tangent.
It was a mistake and I apologize.
The mea culpa arrived in Lisman’s in-box at about 8:15 p.m., about two hours after Snelling’s claims were broadcast in a news bit on this site.
“The reality is that within the last eight weeks, Bruce Lisman has considered running for governor,” Snelling said Thursday afternoon. “He’s had a budget put in front of him, saying that it would cost $3.2 million to run for governor. And he sat through a three to four-hour meeting and thought about it and looked at all sides of it and decided against it.”
Snelling, who confirmed this morning that he sent the apology to Lisman last night, said he stands by his assertion about Lisman’s gubernatorial aspirations.
“I fully believe that what I said was true,” Snelling said this morning.
But Snelling said he felt that the story was devoid of the context in which he’d made the comments. Snelling said that if Lisman chose to pull the trigger on a bid, then he would, as Snelling understands it, run as an Independent. And as part of that candidacy, Snelling said, Campaign for Vermont would send an emissary to the Vermont Republican Party, and prevail upon the organization to leave the top of the ticket open to give Lisman a one-on-one shot against Shumlin.
Snelling said he thinks that could be terrible for the party. And he said it’s a potentially relevant piece of information as it relates to the current battle for the GOP chairmanship between David Sunderland – the choice of Lt. Gov. Phil Scott – and John MacGovern, who is favored by Snelling and outgoing incumbent Jack Lindley.
As a member of Campaign for Vermont, Snelling said, David Sunderland might be willing to leave the top of the Republican ticket open for Lisman, lest he split the conservative vote with an ‘R.’
(Snelling had earlier called Sunderland a “founding” member of CFV – a designation given by the group to its earliest members. But according to CFV, Sunderland isn’t a founding member, but a “partner,” as the organization refers to its regular members.)
Fueling his concern, Snelling said, was Scott’s lack of public enthusiasm for the last Republican gubernatorial candidate, on whose behalf Scott, the most popular Republican in Vermont, seemed uninterested in stumping for on the campaign trail.
Snelling, Lindley, and Darcie Johnston, a longtime Republican operative and a part of their inner circle, have amped up their criticism of Scott in recent days for what they say is his too-cozy relationship with the Democratic governor.
The noise about a Lisman run, combined with Sunderland’s ties to the man, combined with Scott’s perceived ambivalence toward Republican candidates, Senlling said, make him wary of putting Sunderland and Scott in charge of the party’s statewide apparatus.
“I felt like my comment about Bruce ended up out of context of that initial discussion,” Snelling said.
Whatever the context, Snelling said he “felt badly” about bringing Lisman “into a greater discussion about the party when I could have made my point more effectively by speaking in more general terms.”
“I’ve had a relationship with Bruce for many years,” Snelling said. “And I very much value that relationship.”