Ballotpedia's 2012 General Election Preview Articles: Vermont State Executive Officials

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October 29, 2012

By Maresa Strano

Portal:State Executive Officials

MONTPELIER, Vermont: Six state executive positions are up for election in 2012 in the state of Vermont. The primary election took place on August 28, 2012.[1] The general election will be held on November 6, 2012.

It's a full slate this year with the following positions on the ballot:

Vermont's primary elections on August 28th sealed incumbent Democratic attorney general Bill Sorrell's nomination as well the general election candidates' for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer and state auditor, also up for election in 2012. Excluding Sorrell and his primary challenger T.J. Donovan, who conceded the morning of the 29th after a hard-fought and extraordinarily close race,[2] every Republican, Democratic, and Progressive Party candidate seeking election to state executive office this year in Vermont skated through the primary round unopposed.[3]

Of these six positions, current auditor Thomas Salmon is the only incumbent not running for re-election in 2012.[4] Salmon said he can retire with satisfaction after having achieved all the goals he set for the office, and plans to move on to "new challenges."[4]

In Vermont, all polls are open from 10am to 7pm. Most polls open earlier.[5] (See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times (2012))

 Candidates for governor 
See also: Vermont gubernatorial election, 2012
Democratic Party Peter Shumlin (D)
Republican Party Randy Brock (R)
Independent Emily Peyton (Independent)
Cris Ericson (United States Marijuana)
Dave Eagle (Liberty Union)

Three candidates filed for Governor of Vermont at the outset of the 2012 election season, incumbent Peter Shumlin (D), state Senator Randy Brock (R) and Martha Abbott (Vermont Progressive Party), and none faced a primary challenger.[1]

Martha Abbott, the Progressive Party nominee, who was nominally unopposed in the primary, dropped out of the race one week after the primary election. Her candidacy was a purely strategic maneuver to prevent another member of her party from winning, and she said she wanted to yield her party's support to help Shumlin win re-election.[6]

Three third-party candidates - Emily Peyton (Independent) and Cris Ericson (United States Marijuana) and Dave Eagle (Liberty Union) - also made their way onto the ballot for governor this year.

Although Brock ran a hearty campaign, keeping pace with Shumlin in fundraising (and outspending him by over 400%) Shumlin's support base has remained undaunted. The gubernatorial race is rated as Safe Democratic by Governing Politics, The Cook Political Report and Sabato's Crystal Ball.[7][8] If these projections and polls can be trusted to indicate this race's outcome, all signs point to an easy re-election for the popular Democratic governor in 2012.[9][10]

 Candidates for lieutenant governor 
See also: Vermont lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2012
Democratic Party Cassandra Gekas (D)
Republican Party Phillip Scott (R) Incumbent
Ben Mitchell (Liberty Union)

Republican incumbent Phillip Scott is running for re-election in 2012. He ran unopposed in the primary, as did Democratic nominee Cassandra Gekas.[1] Scott and Gekas will also face perennial candidate Ben Mitchell (Liberty Union) in the general election.[11]

After 5 terms representing Washington County in the Vermont State Senate, Scott was first elected lieutenant governor in 2010. One of the duties of the Vermont lieutenant governor is to preside over the Vermont State Senate and cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate when necessary. Since assuming the office in January 2011, Scott has reached out to the business community through his "Vermont Everyday Jobs" initiative, through which he travels to various parts of the state and works part of a day doing someone else's job.[12] [12] Scott touts his record of using his background in the construction industry to devise innovative methods to meet challenges facing Vermonters without resorting to direct government handouts. He gave the value of "self-reliance" top billing on his campaign website, pointing to his work helping Vermonters help themselves rebound from the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene. Scott's 2012 re-election campaign is endorsed by the Vermont National Education Association, the state's largest union, the N.R.A, as well as the Herald of Randolph and the Manchester Journal.[13][14]

Gekas, a women's health care advocate and policy adviser, found a staunch supporter in incumbent governor Peter Shumlin. Like Shumlin, her central campaign theme has been the promotion of universal health-care for Vermonters. "For the past 2 1/2 years I have been a leader on Vermont’s health reform efforts in the State House and I understand how the numbers work... As Lt. Governor, I will keep Vermont on track to be the first state in the nation to make universal healthcare a reality," she writes on her official campaign website.[15] Other focuses for Gekas are job creation and renewable energy development, which she believes are symbiotic endeavors.[15] Gekas has proven an energetic campaigner, but this is her first bid for elected office, and at roughly 30 years old, she's likely too green and underexposed unseat an incumbent like Scott. According to disclosure forms filed with the Secretary of State, Scott has outraised and outspent Gekas 4 to 1 as of the October campaign finance deadline, and the race is rated Safe Republican. (See also: Ballotpedia:Statewide projections for the November 6, 2012 elections)

Also in the race, teacher Ben Mitchell (Liberty Union Party) states on his campaign website: "My basic platform is to take control of Vermont state resources back into the hands of the people." He lists socialized energy, marijuana legalization and building a sustainable local economy as key issues of his 2012 campaign for lt. governor.[16] Mitchell is no stranger to Vermont elections. He has previously run for state Senate, U.S. Senate, and most recently, in 2010, he competed in the general election for governor of Vermont.[17]

 Candidates for Secretary of State 
See also: Vermont secretary of state election, 2012

Democratic incumbent Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos will face Liberty Union Party candidate Mary Alice Herbert in the 2012 general election.[18] Condos was first publicly elected to the statewide executive position in November 2010. Prior to this, he had served eight years as a member of the State Senate. Condos was unopposed in the primary and was presumed to face no challengers in the general election as well until Herbert emerged as a third party candidate in the post-primary phase.[19] Condos' 2012 re-election campaign is endorsed by the Vermont National Education Association, even though Herbert, an educator for over half a century, is a 7-time delegate to the VT-NEA.[20][21]

Herbert did not file any campaign finance information for the 2012 election cycle and Condos' minimal financial activity reinforce the race's rating as Safe Democratic.[22]

 Candidates for Attorney General 
See also: Vermont attorney general election, 2012
Democratic Party Bill Sorrell (D) Incumbent
Republican Party Jack McMullen (R)
Lime2.png Ed Stanak (Progressive)
Rosemarie Jackowski (Liberty Union)

Incumbent Bill Sorrell will defend his seat in this year's election. The stalwart Vermont Democrat was first appointed attorney general 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 until the 2012 primary, since his initial appointment. Sorrell is the longest-serving AG in the state's history.[23]

He faced one challenger, current Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan, in the August 28th Democratic primary election, which he narrowly won.[24] 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 the 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.[23]

"When you're tired, when you have no energy, no passion. when you're just going through the motions. I'm far from that,"[23] said the 65 year old AG.

Sorrell cited cracking down on the proliferation of child porn as his chief priority for the office right now.[25]

Burlington businessman Jack McMullen (R) ran unopposed in his party's primary on August 28th. Before entering the 2012 race for attorney general, McMullen was best known as the 1998 wealthy Harvard educated Senate candidate who lost in the Republican primary to a high-school dropout, native Vermonter named Fred Tuttle after failing to demonstrate an adequate familiarity with cow anatomy and names of local establishments.[26] In an interview conducted by local news publication "VT Digger" after the 2012 filing deadline, McMullen recalled that the story of his botched bid for Senate in 1998 attracted the attention of international news sources stretching all the way to Uzbekistan.[27]

Poised for redemption this year, McMullen says "I will bring a different perspective to the duties of attorney general if elected. My background is in both law and business, and I believe the limited resources of the state’s top attorney can be better deployed to get things done for Vermonters by considering both the legal and economic impact of matters taken on by the office."[28] McMullen told Vt Digger in June 26 interview that under Sorrell's leadership, the office's already limited resources were being inappropriately allocated to enforcing laws like product-labeling regulation when the bulk of funds ought to go toward cracking down the state's growing drug problem, prescribing the office's adoption of stricter enforcement policies and differential sentencing for out-of-state revelers.[27]

Sorrell and McMullen will appear on the general election ballot alongside third party candidates Ed Stanak (Progressive), and Rosemarie Jackowski (Liberty Union).[29] The general election took place on November 6, 2012.

 Candidates for State Treasurer 
See also: Vermont down ballot state executive elections, 2012
Democratic Party Elizabeth Pearce (D) Incumbent
Republican Party Wendy Wilton (R)
Lime2.png Don Schramm (Progressive)
Jessica Diamondstone (Liberty Union)

Incumbent Elizabeth Pearce is seeking re-election in 2012. The campaign for treasurer between Pearce and Republican challenger Wendy Wilton, both of whom ran unopposed in their parties' primaries, has become the most hotly contested statewide race of the season. Pearce and Wilton have taken turns giving and taking attacks from the other in the run-up to November's general election.

Recently each candidate shared her theory on the high-profile nature of the campaign, which has turned nasty at points due to in large part to scurrilous radio advertisements. Wilton says that as a newcomer campaigning heavily on the need for enhanced fiscal transparency, she's been victimized by the establishment that sees her as a "threat to its reign."[30]

Pearce blames Vermont's first conservative super PAC for perverting the integrity of an election that ought to have focused more on the issues facing the state treasurer's office. The superPAC has spent upward of $1 million on advertisements aimed at discrediting Pearce, who was first appointed in January 2011 by Governor Peter Shumlin to replace Jeb Spaulding, who was appointed Secretary of Administration.[12] [31]

In announcing her campaign Wilton stated, "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."[32]

The most recent poll indicated that Pearce had a few point edge over Wilton, but the survey was commissioned by Democrats. Also factoring in the more than a quarter of likely voters reporting as undecided, the race is considered a toss-up.[30]

Pearce, Wilton, Progressive Party candidate Don Schramm (also unopposed in his party's primary) will face one additional challenger in the November 6th general election: Liberty Union Party candidate Jessica Diamondstone.[29]

 Candidates for State Auditor 
See also: Vermont down ballot state executive elections, 2012
Democratic Party Doug Hoffer (D)
Republican Party Vince Illuzzi (R)
Jerry Levy (Liberty Union)

Incumbent Thomas Salmon (R) did not seek re-election. He was first elected in 2006. 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."[33]

Vying for his open seat are Vincent Illuzzi (R), a member of the Vermont State Senate since 1980, representing Essex-Orleans County, self-employed policy analyst Doug Hoffer (D), and late entrant Jerry Levy of the Liberty Union Party. Both Illuzzi and Hoffer ran unopposed in their parties' primaries on August 28th.

On his campaign website, Hoffer outlines three main goals he has if elected as state auditor.[34] His marquee issue is transparency: "Taxpayers have a right to audit the Auditor. I will post the office budget online, including a list of all outside contractors along with the contracts, and I will provide summaries of all audits and reviews in plain language."

Illuzzi was originally rumored to be considering a bid for the attorney general, but the June 14 filing deadline revealed him to be seeking the position of auditor instead.[35][36] His campaign is endorsed by the Vermont National Education Association, the state's largest union.[37]

See also



Ballotpedia News
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Vermont Secretary of State, "Unofficial election results," August 28, 2012
  2. Burlington Free Press, "Close AG primary outcome provides lessons," August 29, 2012
  3. Associated Press Campaign 2012, "Vermont Primary Results," August 29, 2012
  4. 4.0 4.1 Vermont Business Magazine, "Vermont Auditor Tom Salmon will not run for re-election," May 18, 2012
  5. - Voting in Vermont
  6., "Winner of Progressive primary for Vt. governor quits," September 4, 2012
  7. Governing Politics, "An Updated to 2012 Governors' Races," July 24, 2012
  8. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, "Race Projections- Governors," October 4, 2012
  9. The Cook Political Report, "Governors: Race ratings," August 15, 2012
  10. Castleton Polling Institute August 22, 2012
  11. Vermont Secretary of State, "Candidate list for August 28 primary," accessed June 29, 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Vermont Lieutenant Governor, "About Phil Scott," accessed January 4, 2012
  13. Vermont Republican Party, "Phil Scott Earns Endorsements from Herald of Randolph, Manchester Journal," August 25, 2012
  14. VtDigger, "State's largest union gives nod to Shumlin, Scott, Illuzzi, and Condos earlier recommendation for Pearce in Treasurer's race rounds out Vermont NEAs election picks," September 11, 2012
  15. 15.0 15.1 Cassandra Gekas for Lieutenant Governor, "Issues," accessed October 29, 2012
  16. Ben Mitchell for Lieutenant Governor Official Campaign Website, "Ben Mitchell for Lieutenant Governor," accessed October 19, 2012
  17. Project Vote Smart, "Ben Mitchell Candidate Profile," accessed October 19, 2012
  18. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, "Elections Division," accessed May 22, 2012
  19. Document Cloud, "2012 candidate petition filing log-not verified," accessed June 15, 2012
  20. VtDigger, "State's largest union gives nod to Shumlin, Scott, Illuzzi, and Condos earlier recommendation for Pearce in Treasurer's race rounds out Vermont NEAs election picks," September 11, 2012
  21. Project Vote Smart, "Candidate Profile," accessed October 29, 2012
  22. Vermont Secretary of State, "Elections Division: Statewide Candidate Campaign Finance Reports," October 15, 2012
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2, "Donovan v Sorrell for Vermont Attorney General," March 20, 2012
  24. Burlington Free Press, "Sorrell claims victory says Donovan concedes," August 29, 2012
  25. Burlington Free Press, "Attorney General Sorrell faces new, potential challenges from fellow Democrats," March 19, 2012
  26. Green Mountain Daily, " On Jack McMullen and the Ghost of Fred Tuttle," June 27, 2012
  27. 27.0 27.1 VT Digger, "McMullen takes swipes at Sorrell," June 26, 20012
  28. The Bennington Banner, "McMullen waits in wings for ag race," July 4, 2012
  29. 29.0 29.1 Vermont Secretary of State Elections Division, "2012 Candidate Listing," accessed October 19, 2012
  30. 30.0 30.1 Rutland Herald, "Vermont treasurer's race heating up," October 28, 2012
  31. Vermont Secretary of State, "Elections Division Campaign Finance reports," October 15, 2012
  32. Burlington Free Press, "Republican Wendy Wilton files to challenge appointed Democratic treasurer," June 12, 2012
  33. Vermont Business Magazine, "Vermont Auditor Tom Salmon will not run for re-election," May 18, 2012
  34. Hoffer for Auditor, "About Doug," accessed July 5, 2012
  35. Associated Press-, "Vt.'s election shaping up with candidate filings," June 14, 2012
  36. Burlington Free Press, "Attorney General Sorrell faces new, potential challenges from fellow Democrats," March 19, 2012
  37. VtDigger, "State's largest union gives nod to Shumlin, Scott, Illuzzi, and Condos earlier recommendation for Pearce in Treasurer's race rounds out Vermont NEAs election picks," September 11, 2012