Meet Matt Dunne – The Issues

On Wednesday, I introduced you to Matt Dunne. Vermont hasn’t had a progressive Governor since Howard Dean, and Matt’s background makes him the right candidate first for the race and then for the job. Wednesday’s post described his career in technology, dedication to service, and legislative accomplishments. Please support him at ActBlue – absentee ballots have already been mailed out and his first commercial is ready to go on TV, so he needs our support now.

While Matt’s background makes him the candidate who can win, it’s the issues that make him the candidate who should win. He is focusing his campaign on jobs and economic development, and his environmental advocacy has gained national attention. I’ll go into detail about those two issues, but know that his website also offers plans on health care, agriculture, education, civil rights, women’s rights, and government transparency.

Dunne’s top economic priority is bringing broadband Internet to Vermont, which has perhaps the lowest penetration rate of any state. That means Vermont falls further and further behind as the country’s economy moves online. A letter in the Rutland Herald said the author heard “a Windham County businessman [tell Matt] that the day high-speed Internet comes to the town of Dover he’ll hire 15 people.” Matt’s background as an executive with a local software company and now with Google makes him the right person to get this done. In a recent interview with the AP, picked up by MSNBC, he expanded on this vision of economy-by-technology:

"We need to, and I believe have an opportunity to, go from one of the lowest broadband penetration states in the country to the first state that brings fiber-optic high-speed Internet to every home in the state," Dunne said in an interview. "And that's an incredible opportunity for us to move from a state that's not thought of as being a technological center to being a technological center."…

Deploying broadband and improving cell phone service statewide are keys to other issues on which Dunne is focusing his campaign. He wants to streamline and improve education through greater use of distance learning… On energy, Dunne thinks "smart metering," which can tell electric customers moment-to-moment how much power they're using, combined with Vermonters' famed frugality, will enable the state to shave megawatts off its power demand…

"I've heard from business people in the state of Vermont that they have difficulty recruiting engineers, because when they recruit engineers even from the University of Vermont, that engineer finds out that the home they could afford as a first home as a young engineer doesn't have broadband, they go someplace else. When they find out they don't have cell (phone) reception, even at their place of work, they choose to go someplace else."

More below the fold, including a video from climate hero Bill McKibben.

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A good campaign strategy in TX-Gov

Bill White, the popular former Mayor of Houston, seems to be running a pretty good strategy as the Democratic nominee for Governor of Texas. He and his campaign are hammering incumbent Rick Perry for corruption and failed policies in press releases and interviews, but their new TV ad is a positive one focusing on White. This should help drive a narrative about Perry and get the facts out to reporters while still allowing White to give voters the positive campaign they want.

PPP has the race tied up at 43, and you can help White win this impressive prize (Governor of Texas in a census year!) at our ActBlue page.

Here’s White’s new ad called “San Antonio.”

The campaign is also touting the endorsements of 23 sheriffs who “represent about 50 percent of Texans and 99 percent of Texans who live in counties that touch the border with Mexico.”

But on the quieter attack side, here’s a July 27 press release hitting the ten-year incumbent for his corrupt land deals.

We learned for the first time this week that the buyer of Perry's plot of land was business partners with the person who sold it to Perry through an intermediary. The timeline of this scandal clearly shows that Perry coordinated with two business partners to flip land, buying way under value from one partner and then selling it way over value to the other business partner. In total, Rick Perry coordinated with the business partners for ill-gotten gains totaling about $500,000.

In 2000 and 2001, the land buy was arranged by Doug Jaffe, who sold Perry a plot of land through an intermediary for a whopping $150,000 less than it was worth.

In 2007, the land sale was arranged by Ron Mitchell, an trusted associate of Doug Jaffe, during a time when the property was off the market. Mitchell found a willing buyer in a business partner of Doug Jaffe. Mitchell then negotiated a price for Perry with Jaffe's partner, a price a whopping $350,000 over market value.

Mitchell's real estate firm waived the typical 6% fee for Perry, amounting to a $70,000 gift that was never reported by Perry on personal financial disclosure statements. When Mitchell was asked by the DMN whether they would have waived the fee if it was someone other than Perry, Mitchell laughed and said, "We're here to make money.” …

Perry is refusing to release the public listing agreement, had previously hidden the identity of the land buyer and had hidden the fact that the buyer was a business partner with the original seller.

Other Perry scandals include what the White campaign is calling “cash for appointments and cash for favors."

Meet Matt Dunne: The Background

Matt Dunne is a Democratic candidate for Governor of Vermont, a state that hasn’t had a Democratic Governor since Howard Dean but offers an open seat this year. Although Matt is running in a competitive primary with several other qualified progressives, he is on MyDD’s Going on Offense Act Blue page. After getting to know him in 2006, I believe he’s the right candidate for the race and the right man for the job, and I hope you can help him out.

I’ll run through his broad support and stalwart progressive platform tomorrow – a platform that has earned him the endorsement of climate hero Bill McKibben – but it’s his background that makes him the best general election candidate. Any Democratic nominee in this state will be a progressive, so primary voters need to make sure they pick one whose background can match the GOP opponent. (Lt. Governor Brian Dubie is a commercial pilot, farmer, and veteran.)

Although Matt is only 40, his resume is one of the most impressive you’ll ever see, delving into academia, business, technology, service, and policy all. You could even throw in agriculture, since he grew up and still lives on his family’s 100-acre farm. He’s also a proud father of three (seriously, ask him to show you photos, you’ll never see a bigger smile), including a newborn son less than two months old.

Business and Technology: Matt is currently Google’s Manager of Community Affairs, and helped to persuade the company to relent on its secrecy policies and reveal the locations of its servers. He has previously worked as Director of Marketing for a local software company and helped manage the Briggs Opera House in White River Junction, VT.

Service: Matt was Director of AmeriCorps VISTA under both Presidents Clinton and Bush. He based his 2006 campaign for Lt. Governor around “service politics,” asking his supporters to participate in service projects rather than traditional rallies. After the campaign he founded the Service Politics Institute.

Politics and Policy: Matt was the youngest person ever elected to the Vermont State Legislature when he was just 22. He served for six years, and after leaving to head AmeriCorps returned for four more years as a State Senator. According to his website, he “advanced legislation to drive the development of regional technology incubators, streamlined regulations and encouraged foreign companies to locate in Vermont... Matt successfully fought efforts to cut healthcare to the poor, increased funding for individual development accounts, pushed for federal recognition of Vermont's civil union policy, gave veterans preference for state jobs and promoted incentives to encourage the production and use of clean, renewable energy.” Matt's concern for and the poor led him to support the pre-scandal John Edwards in the 2004 and 2008 primaries. He left the state senate to become the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor in 2006, and though he narrowly lost, he significantly outperformed the party's gubernatorial nominee, meaning a lot of independent voters split their ticket to support Matt Dunne.

Academia: Matt served as Associate Director of Dartmouth’s College Nelson Rockefeller Center for Public Policy from about 2002 to 2006. This is where I met him – I was very involved at the Rockefeller Center during my time at Dartmouth, and when he stepped down to run for Lt. Gov., several of us in the College Democrats regularly volunteered for his campaign. Matt founded the Policy Research Shop at Rocky, helping students learn how to effectively research and present public policy to the Vermont and New Hampshire state legislatures. He also grew up the child of a professor and is one of the smartest people you’ll ever meet.

More details about any of these ventures can be found at Matt's website or in profiles from the Vermont newspapers Seven Days and Manchester Journal.

Matt is tied for second in fundraising in the crowded Democratic field and has reached all of his publicized fundraising goals so far. Please help him out at ActBlue. His resume and 2006 showing prove he’s the man to beat Dubie this fall and pick up at least one new statehouse in a tough election year.

Western state Republicans in complete meltdown

Colorado. Idaho. Nevada. California. From crazy to corrupt to down in the polls, the Republican Party is imploding all over the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Let’s start with Colorado. You already know about sexist Senate candidate Ken Buck and the gubernatorial primary between plagiarist Scott McInnis and finance cheat Dan Maes. Both stories have new developments. Buck was caught yet again making stupid comments on tape, referring to birthers as “dumbasses”. He was obviously right and I’m with him every step of the way, but it still won’t help him in a GOP primary. But it’s the governor’s race where we really get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Former Repub Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Trancedo jumped in the race for governor this week as an independent. He he was interviewed yesterday alongside state Repub chair Dick Wadhams on Peter Boyles’ radio show. The interview quickly escalated into a public screaming match, and if you’ve got twenty minutes you really should listen. It’s  just plain fun. The interview starts about ten minutes into the clip with Tancredo being a rude jerk, but by the end Wadhams is making unreasonable demands and calling both Tancredo and Boyles liars. The two men said that Wadhams has told them he dislikes both McInnis and Maes, so not only is the public meltdown fun, it also reveals new party rifts. All of a sudden this Senate seat and this statehouse don't seem to be in nearly as much trouble for Democrats as they were.

If Colorado Repubs feel lonely, all they have to do is look northwest to my neck of the woods, Idaho. I’ve already told you about the state GOP convention, which passed a resolution stating all Repub lawmakers must sign a loyalty oath to try and repeal direct election of senators. That same post also described Sarah Palin’s birthplace in Bonner County, where Repubs are protesting the local fair’s use of the word “fiesta.” The crazy gets worse with ID-01 nominee Raul Labrador, who called for repeal of the 17th amendment before the state GOP did, says our energy policy should be “increasing the production of fossil fuels,” and, like the Colorado GOP and the man he beat in the primary, is a plagiarist. This is an +18 district where McCain won by 25 points – and yet Labrador can’t so much as win the support of the NRCC, the Tea Party Express or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Small wonder the endangered first-term Democrat Walt Minnick has a 16-1 advantage in cash-on-hand and national pundits are moving the race from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic.”

But what happens at the federal level is a symptom of what happens at the local level, and state Rep. Phil Hart of Athol, here in Kootenai County, is our own little Charlie Rangel. Hart is under investigation by the state House ethics committee for tax issues. He’s been late on paying county taxes for 8 years in a row, but the county should consider itself lucky – he owes nearly $700,000 in unpaid federal and state taxes. The man’s not just a tax cheat, either – he’s a thief. The liens include $13,014 in unpaid federal withholding taxes at his engineering firm. In other words, he took his employees’ tax money but kept it for himself rather than turning it over to the government. And the best part? He sits on the House subcommittee that affects issues like his but insists there’s no conflict of interest. Hart and the Idaho GOP are a bigger joke than the name of the town he represents – Athol. But not to worry, he says; the citizens of Idaho are better off for his crimes. “I think it makes you a better legislator, to have these life experiences.”

And of course, you already know about Nevada and the crazy that is Sharron Angle. After a series of missteps – defending BP, calling for the repeal of Medicare and Social Security – she is starting to face criticism from within her own party.

"Sharron's first six weeks have been atrocious," said Danny Tarkanian, who was defeated in Nevada's GOP Senate primary. "I think she would admit to that."…

Before endorsing Angle in her election fight, former Nevada Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich warned the Tea Party darling, "You're scaring the bejesus out of everybody."

Republican Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, who backed Angle's GOP primary opponent, Sue Lowden, settled on endorsing Reid in the state's general election match-up. "Our state [would] suffer and we would never get anything done," Cashell said of the prospect of Angle being elected.

If California Republicans were hoping that maybe the San Gabriels would insulate them from the mountain west, they’re going to be very disappointed. Despite a new ad-buy from the NRSC, a new PPP poll shows that Democrat Barbara Boxer finally has a comfortable lead over the Palin-endorsed Carly Fiorina in CA-Sen at 49-40. Boxer hasn’t been up by this much since May. (The poll also found that 19% of voters have a higher opinion of Boxer’s hair and 14% have a higher opinion of Fiorina’s hair. 67% are not sure.)

This sure is a good month to be a western Democrat. Whoa, I feel good… I knew that I would now… so good… so good…

NH-Sen a toss-up again?

NH-Sen between progressive champion Paul Hodes and likely Repub contendor Kelly Ayotte was supposed to be one of the marquis races of the cycle, a perfect chance for a Democratic pick-up in a Repub year. And yet five different polls have had Ayotte leading by double digits, and only 2 of 16 polls had Hodes cracking 40 points - that is, until now.

A new PPP poll out today shows that this race has turned into a dead heat: Ayotte 45, Hodes 42 with 13% undecided. I was right - Palin's endorsement backfired, and Hodes' ads against Ayotte were good ones. He is also now leading two of the other GOP candidates for the first time. Obama has a net approval rating at 49-47, and the health care bill also does better than in the nation at large, tied at 47-47. Focusing on health care could actually help Hodes with GOTV rather than lose him votes.

PPP's polls are automated, so I look forward to a new live interviewer poll, but at least they have a three-day frame unlike Rasmussen's one. One thing I like is that respondents said they voted for Obama by a 48-45 margin, much lower than the actual 54-45 results. That's probably a decent way of reflecting what 2010 voter turnout may be.

The next poll will tell us if this is an outlying fluke or not. I doubt it, given that it's not coming out of the blue, but after an aggressive Democratic push and several developments favorable to Hodes. To enshrine the results and keep the momentum going, donate to Hodes at our ActBlue page.

I wasn't able to make it to Netroots Nation, but Hodes was there. Here's a message he taped to bloggers beforehand highlighting his progressive agenda.

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