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October 17, 2013

Sorrell to Seek Reelection as Attorney General

Sorrell announce

Updated at 6:14 p.m. with more comment from Sorrell.

Vermont's Democratic attorney general, Bill Sorrell, said Thursday he plans to run for a ninth full term as the state's top prosecutor next November.

In an appearance on WDEV's "The Mark Johnson Show," Sorrell first said he was "intending to run" for reelection. When pressed further, he said, "I'm going to run."

Sorrell's intentions have been a topic of great speculation since he narrowly survived a primary election challenge in August 2012. The AG, who was first appointed to the post in 1997, defeated Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan by just 714 votes. Sorrell went on to easily defeat Republican businessman Jack McMullen and Progressive activist Ed Stanak.

While some Democrats have suggested Sorrell might retire when his present term concludes, the incumbent appeared to lay that rumor to rest Thursday.

Here's how Sorrell's conversation with Johnson went (you can hear it for yourself by clicking here and skipping ahead to 33:37):

Johnson: "What's your feeling about running for reelection at this point?

Sorrell: "I'm intending to run next year. I'm fully engaged in any number of issues, both in-state and out-of-state, that impact Vermonters. And so my intention is to run, and if the voters want another two years of me as AG, I'm happy to serve."

Johnson: "So you're definitely going to run?"

Sorrell: "I'm going to run."

Donovan, who has not said whether he'll run for attorney general or seek reelection as state's attorney, did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday afternoon.


Updated below at 6:14 p.m.

Reached by phone later Thursday, Sorrell said he began thinking seriously about whether to run after Labor Day.

"Gradually over those six, seven, eight weeks or whatever I just reached a conclusion that, yeah, I wanna run," he said. "I'm working on some great issues that I think are important and I've got plenty of energy for it."

Sorrell said he pondered a number of questions before deciding to seek another term: "Did I still have the energy for the work? Was I very engaged and was it interesting to me? Or should I pursue other opportunities? What was I bringing to the table? Was I being value-added or not and such? And how did my staff feel about me as leader of the organization?"

The answers, he said, convinced him to run.

In the years before Donovan challenged him, Sorrell earned a reputation as an uneven campaigner who didn't particularly enjoy pressing the flesh. But after last year's scare, he said, he's grown to appreciate what it takes to win.

"I worked pretty hard last year. I'm a lot smarter candidate in a tough race now than I was two years ago today. You know, you learn a lot in this business," he said. "I'd rather just do the job, but I'm not going to get elected if I don't take it seriously. I certainly took it seriously last year and I'll take it very seriously again next year."

Sorrell said he had not spoken to Donovan since making the decision to run. As for whether Donovan should steer clear of challenging him again, Sorrell said, "He's gotta make that decision. I'm not gonna go there." 

As for whether a potential ninth term would be his last, Sorrell wouldn't say.

"Obviously I'm getting towards the tail-end of my time in the position. I don't think I'm going to be Robert Morganthau and still doing it, you know, when I'm 85 or whatever," he said, referring to the retired New York City district attorney, who held that post for 44 years. "But I'm not saying, 'Oh, this is definitely the last time I'm running,' or anything like that. Take them one at a time. What I'll be focused on really is finishing this term and starting to think about putting together a campaign team and starting to raise money."

Again, he said, "I'm not saying it's one more and only one more. Taking it one at a time, for sure."

File photo by Paul Heintz.

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