Vermont Attorney General election, 2012

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The Vermont attorney general election took place November 6, 2012. Primaries took place on August 28, 2012.

Democratic Party Bill Sorrell (D) Incumbent Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Jack McMullen
Lime2.png Ed Stanak
Rosemarie Jackowski (Liberty Union)

Incumbent Bill Sorrell successfully defended his seat in the 2012 election. The Democratic attorney general was first appointed by former Gov. Howard Dean in 1997. Sorrell, who served two terms as Chittenden County 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.[1]

He faced one challenger, Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan, in the August 28th Democratic primary election, which he narrowly won.[2] The former 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.[3]

Donovan, whom Sorrell endorsed in his last election, said he was intent on tackling the state's prescription drug addiction epidemic. His campaign platform included a "support a 'Good Samaritan' law that would permit friends and relatives of prescription drug addicts to get them into treatment, without fear of prosecution."[4] Donovan admitted that Sorrell has "done a good job,"[1] but believed his priorities needed to be rearranged. Sorrell cited cracking down on the proliferation of child porn as his chief priority.[5]

Donovan chose a sensitive time in Sorrell's tenure to make his bid. In the previous year, the AG's office 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 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.[1]

"When you're tired, when you have no energy, no passion. when you're just going through the motions. I'm far from that,"[1] 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, McMullen said he would run if he could assemble a campaign staff in time.[6] McMullen lost to Sorrell in the general election.

Speculation that Republican state Sen. Vincent Illuzzi was considering a bid for the attorney general was put to rest after the June 14 filing deadline revealed him to be seeking a different executive position, State Auditor.[7][8]

[edit]

General Election

Attorney General of Vermont General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngBill Sorrell Incumbent 57.9% 164,441
     Republican Jack McMullen 33.3% 94,588
     Progressive Ed Stanak 5.5% 15,629
     Liberty Union Rosemarie Jackowski 3% 8,533
     Independent Write-in 0.2% 588
Total Votes 283,779
Election Results via Vermont Secretary of State.

Primary Election

Vermont Attorney General Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngBill Sorrell Incumbent 50.8% 21,124
T.J. Donovan 49.1% 20,410
Write-in 0.2% 66
Total Votes 41,600
Election Results Via:Vermont Secretary of State.


Key dates

  • Administrative deadlines were at close of business (5:00) unless otherwise noted.
Deadline Event
June 14 Statewide candidate filing deadline
Aug. 22 Voter registration for primary election
Aug. 27 Requests for absentee primary ballots received
Aug. 28 Primary election
Oct. 31 Voter registration for general election
Nov. 5 Requests for absentee general election ballots received
Nov. 6 General election

General Election Candidates

Democratic Party Bill Sorrell Incumbent Green check mark transparent.png
Republican Party Jack McMullen
Lime2.png Ed Stanak
Rosemarie Jackowski (Liberty Union)

Primary Election Candidates

Donkey symbol.png Democratic primary candidates

Bill Sorrell

Incumbent Bill SorrellApproveda won re-election in 2012. He had served seven terms since his original appointment in 1997 by then-Gov. Howard Dean. [9]



T.J. Donovan

Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan challenged Sorrell for the Dem. nomination. Two major issues of Donovan's campaign were prescription drug abuse, which he claimed Sorrell showed inadequate leadership on, and poverty. Acknowledging his underdog status, he told reporters after announcing his candidacy, "Although I want to win, I want to raise those issues, but let me say this, I'm in this race to win it."[1] [10]



Gop logo2.jpg Republican primary candidates

  • Burlington businessman and two time U.S. Senate candidate Jack McMullen ran unopposed in the Republican primary. He told the Bennington Banner in a July 4 interview that, "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."[12]

Endorsements

On May 12, 2012, the Vermont Democratic Party State Committee endorsed Donovan. The Committee, which comprises 28 voting members, is allowed to endorse more than one candidate, and the vast majority of state party members and operatives expected it would extend dual support to Sorrell in the following weeks.[13] Then, on July 21, the Committee announced that Sorrell had failed to receive the requisite two-thirds majority vote, and would therefore not receive its endorsement. The announcement left many committee members "stunned," given the long-serving AG's solid Democratic credentials, which his opponent Donovan publicly affirmed. According to some committee voters, the snub may have resulted from Sorrell's inadequate communication and lobbying efforts with the party throughout the campaign to that point.[14]

Prior to officially launching his campaign on May 10, Donovan had already received endorsements from more than 100 Vermont lawyers[15] and several endorsements from the right, including a prominent boost from Republican Mayor of Rutland, Chris Louras, who issued her statement of "wholehearted"[16] support on May 9. In the statement, Mayor Louras said, "To me, T.J. represents an opportunity for new energy, new ideas, and greater engagement on the issues Rutland’s citizens care about most," citing her trust in his capability to reform the state's criminal justice system to focus more on prevention than arrests.[16]

Former Democratic Govs. Howard Dean and Madeleine Kunin, along with Sens. Claire Ayer, Sara Kittell, Robert Hartwell and Harold Giard, formally endorsed Sorrell, citing his past successes in making Vermont “a national leader on public health matters” and environmental protection.[17]

Q: If the Democratic Primary were being held today, who would you support for the position of state attorney general: Bill Sorrell or T.J. Donovan?

Attorney General Primary: Bill Sorrell vs. T.J. Donovan
Poll Bill Sorrell T.J. DonovanNeitherUndecidedRefusedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Castleton Poll Results:August 22, 2012 (dead link)
44%24%0%31%1%+/-7223
WCAX Poll:Attorney General May 22, 2012
49.3%23.2%1.8%25%.7%+/-4607
AVERAGES 46.65% 23.6% 0.9% 28% 0.85% +/-5.5 415
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Q: If the 2012 election for Vermont's attorney general were held today and the candidates were T.J. Donovan, the Democrat, and Vince Illuzzi, the Republican, would you vote for T.J. Donovan or Vince Illuzzi?

T.J. Donovan vs. Vince Illuzzi
Poll T.J. Donovan Vince IlluzziOtherNeitherNot SureRefusedMargin of ErrorSample Size
WCAX Poll:Attorney General May 22, 2012
45.6%23.9%.8%3.1%25.5%1.0%+/-4607
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Q: If the 2012 election for Vermont's attorney general were held today and the candidates were Bill Sorrell, the Democrat, and Vince Illuzzi, the Republican, would you vote for Bill Sorrell or Vince Illuzzi?

Bill Sorrell vs. Vince Illuzzi
Poll Bill Sorrell Vince IlluzziOtherNeitherNot SureRefusedMargin of ErrorSample Size
WCAX Poll:Attorney General May 22, 2012
23.2%23.2%.2%2.0%18.9%1.3%+/-54.4607
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.


**These surveys were conducted for WCAX, WDEV and Vermont Business Magazine by the Castleton Polling Institute at Castleton College. A random sample of registered Vermont voters were interviewed statewide by telephone between May 7 and May 16, and then again between August 11 and 21.**

The 2012 primary between Sorrell and Donovan is the most expensive attorney general primary race in Vermont history.

Reporting deadlines

Campaign finance reports for Vermont's statewide elections in 2012 are maintained online with the Vermont Secretary of State. Each of the six reporting periods covered the period from 5:00 p.m. on the third day prior to the last report until 5:00 p.m. on the third day prior to the latest report.

Campaign financial disclosure reports were due:

  • July 16, 2012
  • August 15, 2012
  • September 17, 2012
  • October 15, 2012
  • November 15, 2012
  • December 17, 2012

Candidates

Bill Sorrell

Bill Sorrell Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Primary FirstJune 16, 2012$11,107.81$92,536.10$(37,631.20)$66,012.71
Pre-PrimaryAugust 15, 2012$66,012.71$22,623.06$(19,872.32)$68,763.45
Post-Primary[18]September 17, 2012$68,763.45$14,117.87$(60,876.43)$22,004.44
Pre-General[19]October 15, 2012$22,004.44$12,307.98$(19,583.06)$14,729.36
Running totals
$141,585.01$(137,963.01)

Jack McMullen

Jack McMullen[20] Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Primary FirstJune 16, 2012$0.00$0.00$(4,641.09)$-4,641.09
Pre-PrimaryAugust 15, 2012$-4,641.09$18,970.00$(9,578.68)$4,750.23
Post-Primary[21]September 17, 2012$4,750.23$34,287.50$(12,052.06)$26,985.67
Pre-General[22]October 15, 2012$26,985.67$14,480.00$(149,994.00)$-108,528.33
Running totals
$67,737.5$(176,265.83)

Former candidates

T.J. Donovan

T.J. Donovan[23] Campaign Finance Reports
ReportDate FiledBeginning BalanceTotal Contributions
for Reporting Period
ExpendituresCash on Hand
Primary FirstJune 16, 2012$7,618.32$129,709.91$(39,557.11)$97,771.12
Pre-PrimaryAugust 15, 2012$97,771.12$37,261.60$(70,960.98)$64,071.74
Post-PrimarySeptember 17, 2012$64,071.74$23,365.07$(73,734.86)$13,701.95
Running totals
$190,336.58$(184,252.95)

Campaign sites

Democrats

Republicans

Advertisements and other media

  • Donovan Campaign Advertisement

  • August 9 Debate

  • August 15 Debate

Watch the debates in full on Donovan's Official Campaign Website.

  • News Channel 5 covers the candidates' proposed approaches to Vermont's prescription drug problem

See also

Articles

External links

BP-Initials-UPDATED.png
Suggest a link

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 WPTZ.com, "Donovan v Sorrell for Vermont Attorney General," March 20, 2012
  2. Burlington Free Press, "Sorrell claims victory says Donovan concedes," August 29, 2012
  3. Vt Digger, "Donovan hires campaign staff for Attorney General primary race," April 3, 2012
  4. Burlington Free Press, "T.J. Donovan announces bid for Attorney General," March 19, 2012
  5. Burlington Free Press, "Attorney General Sorrell faces new, potential challenges from fellow Democrats," March 19, 2012
  6. Burlington Free Press, "Democratic primary for Vermont attorney general heats up," May 29, 2012
  7. Associated Press- Nola.com, "Vt.'s election shaping up with candidate filings," June 14, 2012
  8. Burlington Free Press, "Attorney General Sorrell faces new, potential challenges from fellow Democrats," March 19, 2012
  9. Bill Sorrell for Attorney General, "Supporters," accessed July 23, 2012
  10. Donovan for Attorney General 2012, "Endorsements," accessed July 23, 2012
  11. Vt.Digger, "Burlington Free Press, St. Albans Messenger endorse Donovan for Vermont attorney General," August 24, 2012
  12. The Bennington Banner, "McMullen waits in wings for ag race," July 4, 2012
  13. The Burlington Free Press, "Donovan earns his party's endorsement, but his primary challenger will likely, too," May 14, 2012
  14. Burlington Free Press, "Democratic Committee votes against endorsing Sorrell," July 21, 2012
  15. VT Digger, "In official campaign launch for AG Donovan says he'll 'be smart on crime'," May 11, 2012
  16. 16.0 16.1 Democratic AG candidate picks up Republican mayor's endorsement," May 9, 2012
  17. VTDigger, "Trail Tidbits: Poll shows Sorrell would beat Donovan two-to-one; Sorrell wins senatorial endorsements; Sears backs Donovan," May 22, 2012
  18. Vermont Elections, "Elections: Campaign Finance, Statewide candidates," September 17, 2012
  19. Vermont Elections, "Elections: Campaign Finance Statewide candidates," October 17, 2012
  20. Vermont Elections Division, "Jack McMullen Campaign Finance Reports," July 16, 2012
  21. Vermont Elections, "Elections: Campaign Finance, Statewide candidates," September 17, 2012
  22. Vermont Elections, "Elections: Campaign Finance Statewide candidates," October 17, 2012
  23. Vermont Elections Division, "T.J. Donovan Campaign Finance Reports," July 16, 2012