Governor Will Appoint Senator from Chittenden County

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Governor Howard Dean says he wants to appoint a new senator in Chittenden County who shares the values and beliefs of outgoing Senator Barbara Snelling.

Snelling will resign from the Senate for health reasons in the middle of January. VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

In the next few weeks, Governor Howard Dean will make a key appointment that could influence the workings of the Vermont Senate for the rest of the session. Dean will be selecting a new senator for Chittenden County.

The vacancy occurred when incumbent Senator Barbara Snelling announced that she is stepping down from her Senate seat because she has not fully recovered from a stroke that she experienced last summer.

The Republican caucus in Chittenden County will be meeting soon to consider candidates to replace Snelling. The list of potential candidates will then be forwarded to the governor, but Dean is not legally obligated to select someone from this list.

The governor says he plans to appoint a candidate who reflects Snelling’s political views:

(Dean) “I have the ability, according to the Constitution, to appoint someone who I think can best represent the people of Chittenden County and that’s what I intend to do…. Not necessarily best represent the right wing of the Republican Party, but best represent all the people of Chittenden County. I voted for Barbara Snelling in the last election. I’m not a particularly partisan person. I’ve admired her greatly and I thought the way she was treated, frankly, by the right wing of the Republican Party was a disgrace. So it’s unlikely that anybody from that wing of the Party would get my nomination. I am looking for a Republican that would be my first choice but as you know it doesn’t have to be [that way] under the Constitution.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin says he expects Dean will appoint a Republican to fill the Chittenden County vacancy, but Shumlin says the governor faces some interesting problems with this appointment:

(Shumlin) “I think it would be very, very difficult to appoint one of the Republicans that ran, in light of the fact that not only did they disagree with Barbara Snelling on many of the things that she cares deeply about, they also actively tried to have her defeated in the primary along with Peter Brownell. So it’s going to be a very odd and different appointment, I think, than the governor would normally make.”

Senator Snelling’s oldest son, Mark, says he is not eligible to take his mother’s Senate seat because he lives in Addison County. But there may be a political future for Mark Snelling. Snelling says he is taking a serious look at running for the Republican nomination for state treasurer this year. Mark Snelling says he does not expect to make a decision about this race until the Spring.

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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