Endorsements Take A Role In Crowded Primary Race

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(Host) Democratic gubernatorial candidate Doug Racine has received the endorsement of two major labor groups.

As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, endorsements might carry extra weight in this year’s crowded Democratic primary.

(Kinzel) Racine won the support of Vermont NEA,  the state’s teachers union, and the labor groups that make up the AFL-CIO.

Martha Allen is the president of the teachers union.  She says her group endorsed Racine after meeting with all five Democratic candidates over the weekend.   Vermont NEA has roughly 12,000 members across the state and Allen believes many will now support the Racine campaign:

(Allen) "We can really rally the forces, we can put boots on the ground in every corner of the state because that’s where we are. And I think that we’ve got a lot of active members who are very interested in politics and I think they’d be more than happy to join in on the campaign."

(Kinzel) Racine says many voters are looking for ways to distinguish the five Democratic candidates.  He says the endorsements are one way of doing that:

(Racine) "I do have the endorsement and support of grassroots organizations in Vermont who will bring the strength of their organization to help my campaign. And that’s going to make me a stronger candidate throughout the primary, and I believe it’s going to make me a stronger candidate come General Election time."

(Kinzel) Will endorsements play a critical role in the Democratic gubernatorial primary?  Political analyst Eric Davis thinks the answer is yes. In the coming weeks, he expects that this race will begin to take shape with a top tier of candidates and a second tier:

(Davis) "To get into that top tier there’s a number of things that a candidate needs. One is endorsements such as this. Second is some polls that show he or she is starting to break away from the pack. The third is a strong financial report when those numbers are released in July – so these endorsements from AFL-CIO and from the NEA are going to help Racine move into that top tier of candidates."

(Kinzel) Davis expects that roughly 60,000 people will vote in the Democratic primary in late August. In a crowded field, this means the winning candidate could receive as few as 20,000 votes.  He says that’s where these endorsements help Racine:

(Davis) "Let’s say he got 5,000 votes from NEA members as a result of this endorsement. That could give him about a quarter of the votes he would need to win the Democratic primary. So in a multi candidates race, an endorsement from a group whose members are likely to turn out at a much higher rate in the Democratic primary than the general population is very important to the Racine campaign."

(Kinzel) Davis says other important endorsements to look for in the coming weeks are those of the Vermont State Employees Association and a coalition of Environmental groups.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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