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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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.

Vermont's GOP Gov Won't Seek Reelection

And the retreat of Northeastern Republicanism continues:

Gov. Jim Douglas is expected to announce this morning he will not seek re-election in 2010.

Douglas, midway through his fourth term, will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. in the Governor's Ceremonial Office in the Statehouse.

Multiple Republican sources have said the governor has decided against running for a fifth two-year term.

Unlike Sarah Palin, at least Jim Douglas is going to finish out the remainder of his term rather than cut and run at the sight of a veto override (same-sex marriage, in Douglas' case; federal stimulus money in Palin's). This race will implicate fewer national issues than other 2010 governor races around the country, namely because Vermont has only one U.S. House seat and thus redistricting in the state is of lesser national importance. That said, it should still be an interesting race to watch.

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In Vermont, Slow But Steady Wins the Race

UPDATE: Apparently the link below is subscriber's only. However, if you click on the very same link returned by a Google search, you can read the whole article.

An interesting article caught my eye last week on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, about how our state avoided the mortgage crisis and is weathering the national economic crisis relatively well.  The article is titled Vermont Mortgage Laws Shut the Door on Bust -- and Boom.

You certainly do get a whiff of anti-regulatory sentiment from that title and the reporter's opening paragraph teaser:

In plenty of other states, Andrea Todd would have been a homeowner years ago. Here, she bought just this month -- a difference that helps explain how Vermont avoided the housing bust, and shows the possible pitfalls in President Barack Obama's plan to tighten mortgage regulation.

Yet if you read the article, the facts speak for themselves: Vermont's tough lending regulations have proven to be ahead-of-the-curve. That, combined with old-fashioned fiscal conservatism of our bankers, and nonprofit organizations' efforts to give good economic counseling to prospective home-buyers whom the bankers have turned down, have earned our state the lowest foreclosure rate in the nation - and our economy continues to expand while other states' economies are contracting. It's a tortoise and hare story: while it's true Vermont hasn't had a booming economy, we've kept a steady pace that over the long haul has kept us on par with the nation and ahead in our own region:

Vermont, with its fairly stable population, saw its economy grow relatively slowly -- its aggregate state product up 2.2% in 2005, 1.3% in 2006 and 1.7% in 2007. By comparison, Arizona and Nevada, which enjoyed population explosions, had economic growth rates as high as 8% during those years. But by last year, those two boom states had both contracted while Vermont continued to grow, at 1.7%.

Over the decade, such differences appear to have evened out. Vermont's economy grew 60% in the 10 years ending in 2008, just behind the 63% rate nationally, according to the Commerce Department. Vermont lagged Arizona, Nevada and California over the decade but outpaced most of its New England neighbors.

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You Can't Take It With You, Vermont Edition

Vermont politics has been pretty interesting lately.  In April, our Legislature became the first in the nation to vote in favor of marriage equality for gay couples. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, but our Republican governor, Jim Douglas, vetoed it nonetheless.  This posed no problem in the State Senate, where Democrats hold a huge majority.  But in the last election cycle, Democrats (along with a handful of Progressives) also gained enough seats to comprise just exactly a veto-proof majority in the House. Still, a handful of conservative Democrats would not support marriage equality (including the two who happen to represent my district.)  Fortunately they were balanced by a handful of Republicans who voted for equality (including, most surprisingly, a conservative Republican in my parents' district: you could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that, I had assumed that guy was a total dittohead!), giving just enough votes to override our obstinate governor - who then obnoxiously sniffed that "this is not a time for congratulations". OK Jim, if you don't happen to care that a minority has just gained a right they had always been denied, or if you haven't spent years in the grassroots working to build support for this civil right, or if you don't know or can't even imagine anyone who has, then I suppose it's not a time for you to offer congratulations, it's just a time to pout.  Goodness knows that's something our Governor excels at!  

Then just about a week ago, for the first time in Vermont history, the Governor vetoed the budget passed by the Legislature.  The Democrats held together, and along with the Progressives, overrode the Governor for a second time.  Don't tread on us, Jim!

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