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John Gregg: Health Care Hangover

There were some surprising numbers in the 45th annual Town Meeting Day Survey results released this week by state Sen. Bill Doyle, R-Montpelier. Chief among them was that only 31 percent of respondents believe a carbon tax would benefit Vermont’s environment (41 percent said it wouldn’t) and that 65 percent of the 11,000 returns said the state should have a one-day sales tax holiday. And only 39 percent said Vermont should legalize marijuana, while 48 percent were opposed. While Gov. Peter Shumlin’s focus on cleaning

John Gregg: Likely Clinton Campaign Manager Has Strong Valley Ties

The 1998 Hanover High School graduate who is likely to serve as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign manager is getting national attention. The New York Times on Sunday ran a front-page profile of Robby Mook, 35, who grew up in Sharon and Norwich, and got his start helping out on Vermont House campaigns. Through contacts at the nascent Clinton campaign, Mook, who went on to Columbia University, declined to comment Wednesday, and also shied away from the Times. Former Vermont state Sen. Matt Dunne, a

John Gregg: Sharp Elbows in Vermont

Vermont Democrats went after Lt. Gov. Phil Scott — hard — last week in a clumsy attempt to muddy the top Republican in the state. Scott, who previously served in the state Senate and remains popular with many of his former colleagues, put out a news release after defense contractor Plasan North America said it was closing its plant in Bennington this summer, costing 62 jobs. The company makes armor for military vehicles out of composite material, and the closing comes after another Plasan plant

John Gregg: Waiting for Hillary Clinton

New Hampshire Democrats are waiting to see when — let’s not bother with the if — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets into the presidential race. And it’s clear that she will again have the state’s most experienced, and most influential, Democrat behind her. U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., noted on MSNBC’s Hardball this week that she was one of a group of Democratic female senators who have written Clinton encouraging her to run. “I think Hillary Clinton would be a terrific president,” said

John Gregg: Border Concerns a Sticky Subject

Anti-obesity advocates are pushing for an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Vermont, but they are running into some opposition in the Upper Valley. Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell on Tuesday came out forcefully against the proposal, saying that while he believes “very strongly” in helping Vermonters lead healthier lives, the proposed beverage tax was a nonstarter. “Taxation is not the way to encourage healthy behavior. This proposal will not only increase the cost of living for working families, it will also harm the

John Gregg: Ready for Elizabeth Warren?

Watch out, Bernie Sanders. Supporters of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., are encouraging the progressive former Harvard Law School professor to run for president in 2016. A “Ready for Warren” website with a letter signed by former mid-tier members of the Obama campaign launched on Friday. “We are progressives ready to support someone who isn’t afraid to take on powerful interests like the Wall Street banks that crashed our economy,” they wrote of Warren, the driving force behind the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection

John Gregg: O’Brien Loses Bid for House, Valley Played a Role

Wednesday’s epic battle in the New Hampshire House to deny former House Speaker William O’Brien another term leading the 400-member chamber involved several Upper Valley figures. State Rep. Rick Ladd, R-Haverhill, nominated O’Brien in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt to show centrist support. Ladd told his House colleagues the notoriously partisan O’Brien has “stated a desire to be more inclusive,” an effort belied by O’Brien’s bid to prevent a secret-ballot vote on the leadership race, ostensibly in the name of “transparency.” Meanwhile,

John Gregg: Milne’s Message

Republican Scott Milne rattled Democrats and rocked Vermont’s progressive establishment with his strong showing in Tuesday’s race against Gov. Peter Shumlin, winning 45.1 percent of the vote, just 1.3 percentage points behind the incumbent, with most towns reporting. “I think voters were very clearly saying that Vermont is headed in the wrong direction and we need a change in leadership. I’m hopeful and cautiously optimistic that it might be me, but if it’s Peter Shumlin, I hope he got that message,” Milne said in a

John Gregg: Website Fail

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin’s administration this week announced that the health care exchange website it has spent tens of millions of dollars to construct has been shut down “temporarily” to “complete ongoing operational, technical, performance and security improvements necessary for a well-functioning customer experience.” Translation: This thing doesn’t work, hasn’t worked, and we better shut it down now before Republican Scott Milne starts wrapping it around my neck at a gubernatorial debate. Given that this is an election season, Milne, a travel executive from Pomfret,

John Gregg: Battles Brewing

Millions of dollars of advertising is about to flood into New Hampshire in the pivotal U.S. Senate race pitting incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen against former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who now lives in Rye. But a key question may be how much that race overshadows what will also be hard-fought contests for New Hampshire’s two seats in the U.S. House. In the First Congressional district, which includes Manchester, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea Porter, a Democrat, will face off against former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, a