The ripple effect from Gov. Jim Douglas’ announced retirement next year has been fascinating. The stampede of interest for top spots on the 2010 ballot has a lot of people rethinking their careers, and not just on the top political rungs.
To get a sense of the jockeying going on, consider one example. Joseph Sinagra
of St. Albans, a Republican Party insider who has always worked behind the scenes, said he is thinking of stepping into the spotlight.
Here’s the scenario. Sinagra, executive officer of the Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Vermont, expects Randy Brock
, a Republican state senator from Franklin County, will run either for governor or lieutenant governor, depending on what Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie decides in the coming days. With Brock pursuing a statewide office, a Franklin County Senate seat would open up — and that’s got Sinagra weighing his personal, professional and political options. So would Sinagra run? “I would entertain that.”
Here’s a look at some of the players with sights set on the top spots. Surely, there are others. REPUBLICANS
• Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie
: He is expected to make a decision on whether to run for as early as the end of this week. “I wish you were with me at the fair. You could witness Vermonters who have an opinion about how I should next serve our state. It’s quite amazing, actually.”
• Sen. Vince Illuzzi
, R-Essex/Orleans: “If Brian’s in, I’m 100 percent behind him. If he doesn’t run, it takes on a different perspective. I think it’s incumbent upon me and others to give it serious consideration.”
• Sen. Randy Brock
, R-Franklin: He’s still eyeing either governor or lieutenant governor, depending on what Dubie does. “Brian is still in the deliberative stage. I expect that’ll be at least a week.”
• Sen. Phil Scott
, R-Washington: Eyeing higher office, particularly lieutenant governor.
• Sen. Kevin Mullin
, R-Rutland: “I’m definitely looking at the lieutenant governor spot.”
• Rep. Patti Komline
, R-Dorset, House minority leader: “I don’t say no to anything, but I’m not actively out there.”
• Rep. Patricia McDonald
, R-Berlin, House assistant minority leader: “I want to see what the lieutenant governor does. I’ve been keeping my options open.”
• Businessman Mark Snelling
, son of former governor: He’s weighing a run for governor or lieutenant governor, but clarified earlier remarks to say he would defer to Brian Dubie if he chose to run for governor. “I’m still looking and still thinking until the lieutenant governor makes a decision. I didn’t mean to imply I had the intention to run against the lieutenant governor in a primary. If he were not to run, I certainly would consider both offices.”
• Former Sen. John Bloomer Jr.
of Rutland: Eyeing governor or lieutenant governor, awaiting Dubie.
• Former House Speaker Walter Freed
of Dorset: Mulling the governor’s slot or perhaps lieutenant governor. “It’s nothing I would rule out. I’m waiting to see the lay of the land. Everybody is jockeying and looking around.”
• State Commerce Secretary Kevin Dorn
of Essex: His name surfaced as a potential Republican candidate for governor or lieutenant governor, but he quickly quashed such speculation. “Nope, I’m not. It will be interesting to watch and I’ll be watching.” DEMOCRATS
• State Auditor Tom Salmon
: Has caused a stir by changing political parties today, joining the GOP. He said it was unlikely he would run for governor in 2010.
• State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding
: “I’ve gotten a lot of heartening support. I don’t think that’s going to change my decision I made last winter not to run for governor. I feel like I can make a difference in this position and still have a life.”
• Secretary of State Deb Markowitz
: In race for governor.
• Sen. Susan Bartlett
, D-Lamoille: In race for governor.
• Sen. Doug Racine
, D-Chittenden: In race for governor.
• Sen. Peter Shumlin
, Senate president pro tempore: “I’m going to make a decision in the next few weeks,” he said of running for governor.
• Rep. Shap Smith
, D-Morristown, speaker of the House: He’s all but ruling himself out of the field of gubernatorial candidates. “I would be inclined to say it is unlikely I’ll be running for office other than state representative in 2010.”
• Former Sen. Matt Dunne
of Hartland: “I’ve been encouraged by a lot of friends and supporters to run for statewide office this year. My timelime is November to make a decision. Running for governor is certainly still on the table.”
— Terri Hallenbeck and Nancy Remsen Who’s on the run locally
?: With at least one incumbent Chittenden senator seeking higher office rather than re-election, candidates have begun queuing up. Mike Yantachka
of Charlotte, current Chittenden County Democratic chairman, confirmed he would run for one of the six Chittenden Senate seats. Democrat Philip Baruth
of Burlington already jumped into the race.
— Nancy Remsen Bon voyage
: Even before Gov. Jim Douglas
announced he wasn’t seeking re-election it was clear Vermonters would see less of him in the next year than they are accustomed to. He is, after all, chairman of the National Governors Association.
That job will take him to Washington a fair amount, including Sept. 17, when he will speak to the National Press Club.
Douglas is doing some other traveling too. This week, he is in France, having left Sunday and returning Saturday, with Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee
. They are visiting as guests of the French government and at the request of the French Embassy. to discuss potential markets for Vermont agricultural producers.
Next month, he plans a longer trip to Asia with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.
— Terri Hallenbeck Health-care redux
: Congress reconvenes after its summer holiday today and the future of health-care reform will be all the buzz.
On that subject, Rep. Peter Welch
was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article last week.
It said: “Rep. Peter Welch, a liberal Democrat from Vermont, had his epiphany during a meeting in a Mini Mart parking lot in Derbyline, (that’s Derby Line to you all) a small town on the Canadian border. Over 50 people crowded around a couple of Dumpsters to berate him. ‘It was stunning,’ Rep. Welch said. ‘They came with talking points“ gleaned from talk radio.’
“What Democrats want now, they say, is a big assist from Mr. Obama. ‘There is no way we are going to get this passed without the energetic, concentrated attention of the president,’ said Rep. Welch. ‘He is going to have to weigh in on the details, and do so loudly.’
— Terri Hallenbeck Tea time
: Some Vermonters will travel to Washington, D.C., on Saturday for a national march organized by the Tea Party movement, but there will be opportunities closer to home to express frustration with “out-of-control spending, the bailouts, the growth of big government and the soaring deficits.” Jon Wallace
, state coordinator for the Vermont Tea Party movement, said accountability of the state Legislature and the proposed federal health care reform legislation with its hefty price tag and controversial public option, also are top concerns.
Local events include:
• RUTLAND: Car decoration and sign waving start at 10 a.m. at a former supermarket parking lot on Route 7 near the Ramada Inn. A carpool caravan leaves for Montpelier at 1:15 p.m.
• WILLISTON: Sign-waving begins 11a.m. at Taft Corners, car decoration at 1 p.m. Caravan heads to Montpelier at 2 p.m.
• ST. ALBANS: Rally with speakers, noon to 3 p.m.
• MANCHESTER AND NEWPORT: Carpool caravans to Montpelier planned.
• MONTPELIER: Sign waving starts at 3 p.m. at intersection of Vermont 2 and Main Street, followed by a march at 3:30 p.m.
— Nancy Remsen