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Oops! VT Gov Candidate Boosts Incumbent's Accomplishments

by William Boardman, published

Randy Brock, Republican candidate for Vermont Governor, probably didn't mean it to come out this way, but his successful Friday fundraising pitch that focused on Republican Governors turns out to be a boost for current Vermont Governor, Democrat Peter Shumlin. Or so it seems to anyone paying attention.

The center of Brock’s pitch is that “a recent study showed that of the 17 states that elected Republican governors in 2010, every single one has reduced its unemployment rate.”  Brock doesn’t identify this “study,” but it appears to be an avowedly partisan, two-page report from the late Andrew Breitbart’s website.

The Breitbart website links to a self-identified Tea Party site on, where most anyone can post most anything.  As it turns out, the Examiner report is somewhat longer and more balanced but just as partisan as Breitbart’s, even though it includes a sampling of states with Democratic governors that Brock, like Breitbart, omits.

Not that the level of intellectual honesty goes up much as a result, since both postings rely on the same skewed reference point – governors elected in 2010, of whom there were 25, or half of all governors, which would tend to prove what? If you took ALL the governors, you’d find that the national unemployment rate has been dropping since 2010 and almost every single state has reduced unemployment.  The sole exception is New York, where the unemployment rate has increased from 8.1% to 8.6% under a Democrat elected in 2010.

In other words, Brock’s highly selective sample of 2010 governors is producing results similar to every other governor but one. But that wasn’t Brock’s point.

Brock starts his pitch suggesting that, “If you want to be successful, do what successful people do.”  Then he argues that that advice means that Vermont “should follow the lead of what other successful states have done and elect a Republican governor.”

What’s missing in this logic?  Michael Durwin, a professional in branding and marketing, commented on the Breitbart posting:  “It's missing the fact that on average, Republican states have a SLOWER decline than Democratic states with a few very notable exceptions.“

Clarifying his point, Durwin added:  “While Kansas and Michigan have no doubt had miraculous turnarounds, they leave out the fact that Massachusetts has had a 1.6% decrease in unemployment and while our rate is 6%, Nevada is at 11.6% even with the drop, California is at 10.8%, Georgia is 8.9%, Kentucky and Arizona are at 8.2%, South Carolina is at 9.1%.    States with Republican governors have the worst unemployment (as well as fewest insured, highest in poverty) and with the exception of those few standouts have had, on average, less job growth than the national average…. Here are the real numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: “

Brock doesn’t talk about specific states, but if he did, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he’d have to report that Vermont’s unemployment rate of 4.6% in May 2012 was LOWER than all but one of the class of 2010 Republican-governed states he suggests emulating.  The exception is South Dakota, which has an unemployment rate of 4.3% due to their oil boom.

Among Brock’s most admired states, Nevada’s 11.6% unemployment rate is more than twice Vermont’s, and South Carolina is close at 9.1%, while Michigan, Florida, and Georgia each has 8% unemployment or more.

Vermont was one of eight states that elected a Democrat in 2010, the magic election that inspired Brock to repeat the old saying, “If you want to be successful, do what successful people do.”  In the terms Brock lays out, the Vermont governor has been successful, not that his opponent intends to imitate him. referring to the current governor’s effort to achieve universal health care for Vermonters, Brock’s campaign promise is that “I will repeal Governor Shumlin’s Titanic Care and grow jobs,” which manages to be both a scare tactic and quite possibly an oxymoron.

Whatever – it worked, and early Friday evening, the Brock campaign posted this celebratory comment:    “On Monday, we launched our Repeal Titanic Care Money Bomb. And in five short days, Vermonters rallied behind our campaign, and we raised an astounding $40,000!”

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