Democratic lieutenant governor endorsement picture unclear

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(Host) Before the voters go to the polls, candidates wage an earlier contest for political support. It’s the race to line up endorsements, the names that politicians hope will influence voters.

But the endorsement picture is somewhat confusing in the Democratic lieutenant governor primary. Some people are listed as supporting both candidates in the race.

VPR’s John Dillon has this report.

(Dillon) The Democratic lieutenant governor primary is a battle for a small number of dedicated voters.

(Nelson) “In a race where neither candidates have never run statewide, endorsements can make a difference, because of the fact that they will legitimize your candidacy.”

(Dillon) Garrison Nelson is a University of Vermont political science professor. He says the two Democratic candidates, Windsor Senator Matt Dunne and Burlington representative John Tracy lack name recognition.

(Nelson) “Because neither man is well known to most voters of the state. The endorsements do provide that visibility.”

(Dillon) Matt Dunne has lined up some big names in Democratic political circles. Former governors Madeleine Kunin and Phil Hoff are both featured on Dunne’s web site as supporters.

But Dunne’s list also includes a few local politicians who have endorsed his opponent, John Tracy.

Barre Representative Harry Monti saw that he was included on the web site as a Dunne supporter.

(Monti) “Well, according to him he said that I said I would support him. I don’t remember saying that, I don’t remember, you know specifically saying that I would be on his list.”

(Dillon) Monti says he asked to be taken off the list.

(Monti) “I just want it be known that I am supporting John Tracy, plain and simple. So I don’t want my name on someone else’s sponsorship if I am not doing that.”

(Dillon) Dunne says he got in the race early, and there have been a few people who promised their support but have since decided to back Tracy.

(Dunne) “There were people who were on the list, and people who later decided that they did not want to be listed one way or another. And anyone who asked me to not be listed on either site or to be listed on both or to be simply listed on one site or the other, we have accommodated immediately.”

(Dillon) Tracy says he was working in the legislature and did not go out early to line up endorsements. So when he did announce in June, some legislators wanted to be included as his supporters.

(Tracy) “It’s uncomfortable for people when they’ve told someone they’d support him, and again when they didn’t have all the choices available to them. There have been a couple of people who asked to have their names to be removed. Some have had theirs put on mine. And I respect that, I get that. The bottom line is let’s stay united, have a united front, and go forward.”

(Dillon) The state Democratic Party has stayed out of the endorsement race. It’s supporting both candidates in the primary.

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

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