Money: Useful!

The Vermont Senate race is pretty much off everyone’s radar. Republican-turned-Independent Jim Jeffords is retiring, and Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders is running to replace him. Since Vermont only has one congressional district, Sanders has been elected statewide eight times – the last time with 67% of the vote. And since the Democrats made a pact with Sanders not to run a third candidate (a nutty fringe guy is running but the party didn’t endorse him), Sanders is expected to win walking away. The last poll had him leading the two potential Republican candidates by 45 frigging points.

However, one of those Republicans is the billionaire founder of IDX Systems, Rich Tarrant. Yes, he is a billionaire and his name is “Rich.” While he doesn’t wear a gold-plated dollar sign medallion, he’s flaunting his wealth in a highly amusing fashion with the most ostentatious ad campaign I’ve ever seen. Basically, he is running a serial history of his life, of which thus far four parts have been aired, taking us up to … 1969.

Obviously, the ads are cornier than 10,000 Lifetime Original Movies. I’m pretty sure this is a campaign first – a guy with enough money to waste thus far $2.1 million on TV ads about how he really, really kicked ass at basketball when he was a kid. It also leads to hilarity like this:

“For years, Congressman Sanders has railed against the rich and powerful buying access to our elected officials,” Tarrant campaign manager Tim Lennon said in the statement. “Now it seems that Congressman Sanders is doing the very thing he claims to find repugnant.”

Hortenstine noted that, according to new filing with the Federal Election Commission, Tarrant lent himself another $425,000 on Thursday[My emphasis]. Tarrant, the founder of a medical software company, has so far lent his campaign $2.1 million.

Yes, I know the difference between “being rich” and “being owned by the rich.” New Jersey’s fuzzy Gov. Jon Corzine straddles that pretty well. But come the hell on.

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