By most accounts, the Vermont Democrats are void of a real, big name candidate for governor for this upcoming election because the conventional wisdom is that Douglas is more or less unbeatable.  For a wide variety of discussions about this, and the effects of Progressive candidate Anthony Pollina’s bid for governor, pop over to Green Mountain Daily, where the topic (rightly) gets plenty of airtime.  But anyway, the reality is that there is a rather deep list of Dems with statewide name recognition who are interested in taking a shot at becoming supreme leader of our small, mountainous social and political bubble (Dunne, Racine, and Shumlin to name a few).  However, the insiders all know that these folks are holding out for the 2010 elections.  Generally, there is a belief that Douglas will not seek re-election that year.  This logic, near as I can tell, is predicated on the rumor that by 2010 Senator Leahy may be announcing his retirement, at which time Douglas would throw his hat in the ring for a shot at that job; thus leaving the governor’s seat wide open for a Dem to step into.  

Not comfortable leaving one of ‘their guys’ off the ballot, the Dems are floating virtual unknowns (Cambell, Galbraith) as possible sacrifices to the Douglas electoral juggernaut (a juggernaut created, no less, by the Democratic Party’s failure to run someone against Douglas for Treasurer for many years, giving the GOP do-nothing quite a bit of personal political momentum).  For the Democratic Party in the State of Vermont, the 2008 election is pretty much over, aside from the necessary lip-service that has to be paid to the chances of whoever the eventual challenger to Douglas becomes.

Oddly enough, this is more or less the exact same position that the Republican Party, on the national level, is in.  John McCain, as most of us should realize, is not quite “in” with the upper echelons of the GOP.  For what, I don’t know.  He’s generally typified by the mainstream press as the “maverick” of the Party- what this more or less means is that he has a slightly differing stance on a couple of issues than they do, I guess.  Or maybe he’s just always fucking up the secret handshake, or forgetting the words to the hymns they chant during ritual.  Make no mistake though, the national GOP leadership are loath to imagine a ‘President McCain’.  But, for so many friggin years he’s been like that annoying little yapper dog that, no matter how much you try to ignore, is still right at your ankles, nipping and yapping away in the ultimate test of “do I really believe kicking a dog to be immoral?”

At the same time, the GOP leadership can see the writing on the wall.  These folks may have indefensible moral and ethical beliefs, but they are not idiots.  They know that there’s a high degree of certainty that a Democrat is taking the White House in 2008.  I think that to some degree, they realize the possible trouble they could be in as a result of the drastic political polarization that Bush’s tenure has brought.  Because of the long-term problem this could be, and because over the past 8 years they’ve given themselves a pretty good hand at which to reap some serious money (don’t forget, that is the ultimate point of all this), they’ve resigned to the fact that they won’t be president one year from now.

 Strategically, I think they’re quite comfortable letting the Dems take control, which over the next few years will allow the American people to slowly redirect their ire and angst from the GOP to the Dems, and which will give them a good shot at dethroning the prez in 2012, and probably a chance to take control of Congress before then.  Given all this, the GOP are allowing McCain to be their sacrificial lamb to the Dems for this coming election.  If they thought they had a chance, they’d certainly be running someone backed by the neo-cons.  At the same time, if the Vermont Dems thought they had a chance, they’d certainly be running one of their big stars.  

So the reality is that on the national stage, the GOP are allowing “not their guy” to give it a shot, simply because the leadership knows this one is  a loss anyway, and so they figure “what the fuck, at least McCain will stop yapping at us about his ‘turn’ to run for the top job’ and we can re-group and be ready to regain control in the next election.”  At the same time, the Vermont Democrats are saying pretty much the exact same thing, waiting for their ‘inevitable’ chance at the big time.  Kinda makes you glad to be a part of such a great political system, doesn’t it?