Thursday, I took a break from the Tea Partiers (or Partyers? I don’t know, Burl) and ducked into the lobby of the State House. And who should I find but Dwight Drake, back in his accustomed milieu.
He seemed none the worse for wear for having taken that hiatus to run for governor. We briefly went over that ground — he discovered what Tony Mizzell has on a smaller scale: This is a really tough time to try to raise money for anything. And that’s what did him in (and I suspect will presently do in Jim Rex as well).
We talked some State House bidness as well. His assessment as an observer (and as lobbyist for Big Tobacco) is that lawmakers have arrived at a consensus on the cigarette tax: They want a 50-cent increase, but they can only override a veto on a 30-cent increase.
If you’re keeping score, our state is more than a dollar under the national average.
His belief is that something will pass, and likely survive a veto. Not because lawmakers don’t want it to be an issue on the hustings in the fall (where voters have indicated time and time again that 75 percent of them want the increase), but because they’re fed up with playing this game with a certain governor.