Filing deadline report: Vermont's one state executive primary could end record streak for Sorrell
MONTPELIER, VT: The filing period drew to a close Thursday evening for candidates seeking statewide office in Vermont in 2012. Among the offices up for election this year are six state executive positions: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer and state auditor.
Incumbents are seeking re-election in five of the six contests: current auditor Thomas Salmon announced he has achieved the goal set when he took office of transforming the auditor's office into a "first-rate performance audit shop," and plans to move on to "new challenges." The only contested state executive primary race this year is the Democratic nomination for attorney general. Incumbent Bill Sorrell, who first assumed the office by appointment in 1997, will face current Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan, in the August 28th primary election.
Vermont is one of only two states that elects its governor every year. Incumbent Peter Shumlin, who was first elected in 2010, is running for re-election. In last year's Democratic primary election he eked out a victory, winning the five-way race by just 197 votes. He defeated then-Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie in the general election by a 1.8 point margin. Although it's still early in the game, this year's race isn't looking any easier for the first term Democratic incumbent.
Incumbent Phillip Scott has drawn two challengers for his lieutenant governor seat. Though none of the candidates will face a primary election, there is added pressure on Scott to defend his seat as the Republican Party's most powerful sitting officeholders in Vermont statewide office.
Gakas, who filed her papers on the last day, is a spokesperson and advocate on health care issues for the Vermont Public Interest Group. Powers served on the Montpelier City Council from 1993 to 1997 and is a perennial candidate in Vermont with past runs for Mayor of Montpelier in 2004, Vermont Secretary of State in 2008 and Lieutenant Governor of Vermont in 2010.
Incumbent Bill Sorrell will defend his seat in this year's election. The Democratic attorney general was first appointed by former Gov. Howard Dean in 1997. Sorrell, who served two terms as Chittenden County Attorney State's attorney prior to taking office as the Vermont's top law enforcement official, has won re-election, without serious contest, since his initial appointment. Sorrell is the longest-serving AG in the state's history.
He will face one challenger, current Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan, in the August 28th Democratic primary election. The former has assembled a crack team of Vermont-native experts to guide his "grassroots" campaign, including veteran Governor and Lieutenant Governor campaigner and fundraising maven Sam Winship as his campaign manager.
Donovan, whom Sorrell endorsed in his last election, is running on a platform of tackling the state's prescription drug addiction epidemic. He plans to "support a 'Good Samaritan' law that would permit friends and relatives of prescription drug addicts to get them into treatment, without fear of prosecution." Donovan admits that Sorrell has "done a good job," but believes his priorities need to be rearranged. Sorrell recently cited cracking down on the proliferation of child porn as his chief priority.
Donovan chose a sensitive time in Sorrell's tenure to make his bid. In the last year, the AG's office has suffered a handful of high-profile losses in federal courts and the Supreme Court while pursuing its progressive agenda, including cases concerning Vermont's campaign contribution limits, and most recently, on the issue of closing of Yankee, Vermont's lone nuclear power plant. Sorrell responded to comments about his floundering performance with reminders about the inherent difficulty of bringing these "progressive" issues before today's conservative-disposed U.S. Supreme Court, and about his office's record of winning "far, far more often" than not, earning $40 million in fees annually for the state treasurer.
"When you're tired, when you have no energy, no passion. when you're just going through the motions. I'm far from that," said the 65 year old AG.
One rumored Republican candidate did enter the race: Burlington businessman Jack McMullen. Weeks before filing his nominating petitions with the secretary of state, Mullen said he would run if he could assemble a campaign staff in time..
Rumors that Republican state Sen. Vincent Illuzzi was considering a bid for the attorney general were put to rest after the June 14 filing deadline revealed him to be seeking a different executive position, State Auditor.
Democratic incumbent secretary of state Jim Condos is seeking re-election in 2012. Condos was first elected to the post in 2010. He faces no major party challengers and will likely coast through to his second term.
Incumbent Elizabeth Pearce (D) is seeking re-election as Vermont Treasurer. She was first appointed in January 2011 by Governor Peter Shumlin to replace Jeb Spaulding, who was appointed Secretary of Administration.
Before the full field of candidates was even certain, the Vermont NEA, which is the largest union in the state, announced their endorsement of Pearce, saying she "was integral in achieving the historic teacher pension reform deal we, then-Treasurer Spaulding and then-Gov. James Douglas reached in 2009."
Former Republican State Senator and city Treasurer Wendy Wilton announced her candidacy by stating, "I am seeking the office of state treasurer because I am concerned about the independence of the office and poor ratings regarding transparency and accountability. The state of Vermont recently received a D minus from US Public Interest Research Group, relating to state spending disclosure. That needs to change."
Two-term incumbent Thomas Salmon (R) did not seek re-election. In a letter he stated, "I have achieved the goal set when I took office in January 2007 to transform the Vermont State Auditor’s Office into a first-rate performance auditing shop. It is time for me to move on to new challenges."
The contest for the open seat will be between Doug Hoffer (D) and state Senator Vince Illuzzi (R). Hoffer lost to Salmon in the 2010 race for auditor, taking second place with 45.8 percent of the vote. A policy analyst who worked in the State Auditor's office during the 1990s, Hoffer says he is uniquely qualified for the position. On his campaign website he outlines his main goals if elected to the office as "greater transparency," "more accountability," and "better use of resources."
Illuzzi, who was first elected to the Vermont State Senate in 1980, has always served as a Republican, but up until the final days of filing it was unclear what party he would run under. Illuzzi collected the necessary 500 signatures to run as a Republican, but also collected 500 signatures in order to run as an independent party candidate.
Finally at a press conference yesterday he talked of his roots in the Republican Party, stating, “In the end I concluded I could be just as effective as an independent Vermont Republican. There is a big difference between Vermont Republicans by history and those who by and large now serve in Congress. In Congress, you have very conservative individuals who hold ideology over common sense and practical solutions to the problems facing our nation. I am not one of those Republicans.”
Hoffer, meanwhile, is running as a Democrat but has also been endorsed by the Vermont Progressive Party. Unlike most third parties, the Progressives have found electoral success and currently hold two seats in the state Senate and five in the House.
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- Vermont state executive official elections, 2012
- Vermont gubernatorial election, 2012
- Vermont lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2012
- Vermont secretary of state election, 2012
- Vermont attorney general election, 2012
- Vermont down ballot state executive elections, 2012
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