The Vermont Democratic Party headquarters is a bustling place, filled with volunteers working at tables, phones ringing. There's a lot on the line to make sure voters see things their way this fall when it comes to voting for presidential, gubernatorial, legislative candidates.
In the far corner one of the window offices is reserved for a candidate who has none of those worries. Peter Welch won't admit to dancing in the streets over not having a Republican opponent, but he is a much more relaxed man than he was two years ago. That much he will admit.
Welch, you will recall, scrapped his way to Congress in a tough race with Martha Rainville two years ago. Polls showed that he was trailing at one point, he now concedes. He ended up winning by a more comfortable margin than one might have guessed going in, but when he went to parades or shilled for votes on the streets two years ago, lots of people didn't know who he was and weren't all that interested in what he was trying to sell them, he said.
What a difference a title makes. It happened pretty much overnight. Once he'd won the election, people were a lot more willing to shake his hand. Now that he's been in office for almost two years, people are no longer ducking for cover when they see him coming.
Odd, isn't it? Apparently, we don't hate politicians. We hate people who are trying to become politicians.
Or is it that the balance has shifted and it's no longer Welch pandering for votes, but voters pandering for the congressman's attention?
- Terri Hallenbeck