Progressive Reaches out to Democrats in Race for Lt. Governor
Progressive State Rep. David Zuckerman (P-Burlington) is reaching out to Democrats as he contemplates a run for lieutenant governor.
One option Zuckerman is entertaining is running in the Democratic primary, in an attempt to garner the backing of both Democrats and his own Progressives. A similar approach was used, successfully, by former Burlington City Councilor Tim Ashe.
Ashe, a Progressive, ran in the Democratic Primary in 2008 for state senate in Chittenden County and won. He later won in the general election and now sports a "D/P" after his name.
On Monday, Zuckerman will meet with the Washington County Democratic Committee to talk about the common political ground shared by the two parties, as well as his possible run in the Democratic primary.
"Before jumping in, I feel it's important to discuss the issues and challenges that face our state. Because part of my considerations include running in the Democratic Party primary, I feel it is important to reach out to the various county members to see what the reception is like," said Zuckerman. "This is all part of the bridge building process, we will see where it goes from there."
Jack McCullough, chairman of the Washington County Democrats, confirmed Zuckerman's appearance and said he welcomes the dialogue.
"We're happy to have him talk about anything he wants to talk about," said McCullough. "And, even if he hasn't made a decision about running for lieutenant governor, I think there is still a lot to talk about in terms of trying get Democrats and Progressives to work together in statewide races to elect small 'p' progressive candidates to office."
He believes Democrats and Progressive have common ground on a variety of issues, including health care, wages, housing, the environment, education, equal rights, and agriculture.
"From that common ground could come a great campaign, if we put aside some of the party fiefdoms and focus on what is important. By reaching out to have these discussions, I can better discover to what extent that common ground exists," Zuckerman added.
He said he is reaching out to Democratic leaders in other counties, too, though no specific meetings have been set.
In running for reelection in 2008, Zuckerman bemoaned the fact that Democrats were running a strong candidate in his district. In the end, Democrat Kesha Ram defeated Progressive Chris Pearson in the two-person district.
Democrats have often pointed to Progressives as being "spoiler" candidates — in particular the 2002 race for lieutenant governor. Then, Progressive Anthony Pollina garnered 25 percent of the vote, while Democrat Peter Shumlin earned 32 percent. The winner? Republican Brian Dubie with 41 percent of the vote.
Then, in 2008, Pollina ran first as a Progressive and then an independent, for governor. In that race, he bested Democrat Gaye Symington by a 21.8 percent to 21.7 percent margin.
Aside from Zuckerman, few Democratic candidates seem to be coming forward to run for lieutenant governor, an office being vacated by Republican Brian Dubie. Dubie is running for governor.
Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan announced last week that he's not running for the job. That leaves State Sens. Ed Flanagan and Virginia "Ginny" Lyons in the running, as well as Tim Palmer.
Horse logger and peace activist Boots Wardinski, a longtime Liberty Union candidate, announced earlier this fall that he will run for Lt. Governor — in the Progressive primary.
On the Republican side, Mark Snelling is the only definite candidate. Possible candidates include: State Sens. Randy Brock (Franklin), Phil Scott (Washington), and former Rutland State Sen. John Bloomer. Likewise, Sen.Vince Illuzzi (Essex/Orleans) said he’s going to wait until after the legislative session to determine if he’ll make a run for lite guv.