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December 05, 2010

Campbell Elected Senate President Pro Tem; Carris, Miller Picked for #2 and #3 Spots

DSC08753 Vermont Senate Democrats converged on the picturesque Three Stallion Inn in Randolph Sunday morning to select their 2011 leadership team.

As expected, Sen. John Campbell (pictured standing), a lawyer from Quechee and the longtime majority leader, was unanimously chosen as the next Senate president pro tem, the top job in the Senate. Sen. Bill Carris of Rutland was elected majority leader and Sen. Hinda Miller of Burlington was elected to the number three leadership post — formerly called majority whip, but now referred to as deputy majority leader.

Would-be challenges to Campbell — including one by Sen. Ginny Lyons of Williston — never materialized and Campbell and the rest of the leadership slate sailed to easy victories. Sen. Tim Ashe, a Progressive/Democrat from Burlington, had considered running for deputy majority leader, but stepped aside to support Miller for the job.

Over coffee and crumbcake, the Democrats also welcomed the newly elected members of their caucus: Sally Fox and Philip Baruth of Chittenden County; Anthony Pollina, a Progressive/Democrat from Washington County; and former ambassador Peter Galbraith of Windham County. One Senate Dem — Claire Ayer of Addison County — did not attend.

Also Sunday, Sen. Dick Mazza of Colchester was re-elected to serve on the Committee of Committees, the three-member body that assigns senators to working committees and which also includes the Senate president pro tem and the lieutenant governor. Mazza will have to be confirmed by the whole Senate, but with Democrats holding a 22-to-8 majority, he's all but in.

On Saturday, the House Democrats held their caucus at the Statehouse and re-elected Rep. Shap Smith of Morrisville as Speaker of the House. Rep. Lucy Leriche of Hardwick was elected majority leader and Rep. Willem Jewett of Ripton was elected assistant majority leader. Click here to read VtDigger's report of Saturday's meeting, which included a visit from Democratic Governor-elect Peter Shumlin.

Shumlin, who was Senate president pro tem for four years before being elected governor, did not attend Sunday's gathering. Campbell joked that "his security detail wouldn't let him," but provided no actual explanation as to why Shumlin didn't show.

In his speech to colleagues, Campbell sought to assert his independence from Shumlin — Campbell has been the governor-elect's lieutenant for the past four years. Campbell said some have suggested Shumlin will be "running the Senate out of the fifth floor," meaning the governor's office, but Campbell told colleagues that would not happen. Campbell told Democrats he would keep his door open and rely heavily on input from the group.

His job, as Campbell sees it, is to "bring people together."

"There's really a leadership vaccuum," he said. "We've lost a lot of senior senators who had a lot of experience."

DSC08732 The only question for Campbell before his election came from Lyons (pictured), who asked whether he considered the Vermont Yankee issue settled or whether he'd consider revisiting last year's vote to shutter the aging nuclear power plant in 2012.

"As far as I'm concerned, we made our statement," Campbell replied. "It's done."

Senate Democrats went into executive session to discuss hiring a secretary of the Senate to replace David Gibson, who passed away this year. After closed-door discussions, they voted to hire former GOP senator John Bloomer for the job on a temporary basis — a move that will also require formal action by the full Senate when it convenes in January.

As we all know executive session had to come up here somewhere and it did.
Its amazing even individual parties have to meet in executive session, as well as the rest of the municipalities in the state.
Maybe it is time for executive session to be castrated from the process totally.
We could get the piano string out and start with Burlington politics, move south to South Burlington and end in Montpelier, while cutting stones from Canaan, to Bennington in the process.
This would be a good "cutting" of government.

Ah, yes. The "litmus test" on Vermont Yankee. Count on unoriginal, orthodox, paranoid warhorse Ginny Lyons to bring that issue up and demand public loyalty on it. Which is funny since, according to this article, Campbell's "loyalty oath" came after he declared his supposed independence from Shumlin.

Reading about this event is reminiscent of Kremlinology. Just before the new party chief would get elected, some old time Leninist hack in the Politburo, who didn't have the votes to get elected himself, would make a show of demonstrating his power by asking the candidate some doctrine-loyalty question just like the one Lyons asked Campbell.

Lyons is a has-been who just can't let go. She even looks like a tired old Politburo member.

... and Sen. Lyons was the TOP vote getter in the Chittenden County Senate race.... so sorry, Comrade Murphy!

Doesn't mean much. Incumbents always win. No matter how old and tired they are. Vermonters re-elected Gov. Douglas three times, even while they were electing Leahy to the Senate (2004), Sanders to the Senate (2006), and Obama to the Presidency (2008). Did I mention incumbents always win?

The winner of our Lt. Gov.'s race is pro-Yankee. That's at least as significant as the fact that Comrade Lyons was relected for the 100th time to the Vt. State Senate from Double Latte County.

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