Progressives withholding gubernatorial endorsement, for now
Citing buyer's remorse over its support for Peter Shumlin in 2010 in his first election as governor, the Vermont Progressive Party has decided not to endorse a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
All three Democratic candidates — Matt Dunne, Sue Minter and Peter Galbraith — had requested the endorsement, according to Kelly Mangan, director of the party.
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak was elected to be chair of the Vermont Progressive Party during an annual convention at the Capital City Grange in Montpelier on Saturday. Photo by John Herrick
All three candidates also expressed a willingness to run as so-called fusion candidates who would affix the Progressive label to their party affiliation.
But their remarks at the Vermont party's convention Saturday were not enough to sway the state coordinating committee, which decided nearly unanimously not to endorse.
"We didn't hear candidates completely address progressive issues in a way we would have liked," Mangan said. "At the same time, there is a lot of mistrust still. We made a point of not running a Progressive in years past because of Shumlin's assurances he was going to make universal health care happen in our state, and then he went back on that promise."
Shumlin was re-elected in 2012 and 2014 and isn't running this year.
The Progressive Party will reconsider a gubernatorial endorsement after the Aug. 9 primary, and Mangan said there is virtually no chance the party will field its own gubernatorial candidate, because no one has stepped forward.
The last Progressive gubernatorial candidate in the general election was Michael Badamo, who ran in 2002. Badamo earned less than 1 percent of the votes, netting fewer than Cris Ericson of the Make Marijuana Legal Party.
The Progressive Party did offer endorsements this year to Sen. David Zuckerman, P/D-Chittenden, who is running for lieutenant governor, and Doug Hoffer, another Progressive/Democrat, who is running for re-election as state auditor.
Richard Dunne, who is running for state treasurer against incumbent fellow Democrat Beth Pearce, also sought the Progressive endorsement but was not given it.
The Progressive Party is focusing more on winning legislative seats, Mangan said. Having a strong roster of legislators is considered a step toward fielding stronger statewide candidates in the future.
Besides Zuckerman, a number of the nine elected legislators who identify as Progressives — some wear more than one party label — are working to move up the ladder. Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, is running for the Senate, and Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, is hoping to replace the departing John Campbell as Senate president.
"We have more candidates planning to run for offices as Progressives than we ever had before," Mangan said, adding that the party is fielding 30 candidates in the 2016 election — the most in its history.
"We are going to have a really good group of folks this year. I look forward to picking up some seats," Mangan said. "I look forward to continuing (Bernie Sanders') revolution on the local level."
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