Clavelle will run for governor as Democrat

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(Host) Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle will run for governor next year. Clavelle was re-elected this spring as both a Progressive and a Democrat. He plans to enter the governor’s race as a Democrat. And the mayor says he won’t be deterred by a primary campaign.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Peter Clavelle is in his seventh term as mayor of Burlington, Vermont’s largest city. He’s closely identified with the Progressive Party, but he grew up next door in the Democratic stronghold of Winooski. And he says his political coming of age was when Phil Hoff carried Winooski in 1962 to become the first Democratic governor in 108 years.

Clavelle is now going back to his political roots.

(Clavelle) “It’s my intent to run as a Democrat, and to work with and within the Democratic Party but also to retain and earn the support of those that have opted to work in Progressive Party.”

(Dillon) Clavelle wants to avoid a repeat of the 2002 lieutenant governor’s race, when a Progressive and a Democrat split 57% of the vote and allowed Republican Brian Dubie to win.

(Clavelle) “I hope that we’ve learned from the lessons of the past. We have a president who’s serving with 49% of the vote, a governor with 45%, and a lieutenant governor with 42%. So it’s clear that those of us that are coming at life from outside the Republican Party need to get our act together or the outcome will be a long reign of Republicans.”

(Dillon) The mayor says he’s gone from thinking about the gubernatorial race, to planning for it. He’ll hold off on a formal announcement until the beginning of next year.

Clavelle could face a Democratic primary. Former Windham County Senator Peter Shumlin said last week he’s seriously considering a run for governor. Shumlin, who lost a race for lieutenant governor, will travel around the state to talk to people before making a decision. He also said he’s weighing the impact of a race on his family.

But Clavelle will run even if Shumlin is in the race.

(Clavelle) “I’m not going to back away from a primary, I’d prefer not to have one. But I feel real strongly that the next governor will have the support of Progressives, Democrats and Independents, or that governor will be Republican Jim Douglas.”

(Dillon) Candidate Clavelle will likely to try to cast Douglas as a George Bush Republican who has marched in lockstep with the president. He describes Douglas as a decent man who has served the state for 30 years.

(Clavelle) “But you might say he’s hanging out with the wrong crowd. I mean he has served as the chair of the Bush campaign several years ago, continues to be raising money for the Republican Party and shares the politics obviously of the Republican Party. He is in Vermont their chief cheerleader. I don’t believe that the majority of Vermonters share those politics and those values. From my perspective, the Republican Party is working real hard to make government work real hard for those who have power, influence and money.”

(Dillon) Clavelle believes he’ll offer key differences between himself and Douglas on economic development, education, environment and energy issues.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.

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