Pollina may run in Democratic primary

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(Host) Progressive Anthony Pollina says he’s considering running for lieutenant governor – but as a Democrat. Pollina says it’s clear to him that incumbent Republican Brian Dubie will win re-election if there are Democratic and Progressive candidates in the race.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel has more.

(Kinzel) It appears that some leading members of the Progressive Party in Vermont are coming to the conclusion that the best way to get elected to statewide office is to run as a Democrat. Burlington mayor Peter Clavelle, who’s been elected to several terms as a Progressive, joined the Democrats to seek the party’s gubernatorial nomination. And now Anthony Pollina, who has run as a Progressive candidate for governor and lieutenant governor, is thinking about making the move.

In 2002, Pollina, Republican Brian Dubie and Democrat Peter Shumin all ran for lieutenant governor. Dubie won the race with just over 40 percent of the vote. This year, Dubie is expected to seek re-election and two Democrats, former state senators Cheryl Rivers and Jan Backus, are seeking their party’s nomination.

Pollina, who is thinking about running again, says it’s clear to him that Dubie will always win a competitive three-way race, so Pollina is thinking about entering the Democratic primary:

(Pollina) “I think in a one on one race against Brian Dubie that I would have a very good chance of defeating him. I was able to draw votes from across the political spectrum, I have the best name recognition, the best organization. So I think that I’m the most electable, if you want to use that word.”

(Kinzel) For the past two elections, Pollina has been very active in the effort to help expand the Progressive Party from a Chittenden County-based group into a statewide organization. Pollina says that work can continue even if he runs as a Democrat:

(Pollina) “It doesn’t really matter what label I run under because they know who I am and we’ve built a trust over the years. So I think defeating the incumbent and being a very activist, independent lieutenant governor would be one way to build a powerful political movement in the state that brings together Progressives, Democrats, independents and others to start doing the work we need to do.”

(Kinzel) Democratic Party chairman Scudder Parker was surprised and dismayed at the prospect of having Pollina run as a Democrat. Parker says Mayor Clavelle has spent a lot of time meeting with Democratic officials to help strengthen the party’s base. Parker doubts that Pollina has the same motivation:

(Parker) “Is he really looking at the long term health and orientation of the Democratic Party, over a long period of time? There’s just nothing that would suggest that that’s what he is doing.”

(Kinzel) Parker says he’s disappointed that Pollina hasn’t talked with him directly about this issue. Parker says this probably means that Pollina wants to use the Democratic Party for strategic purposes and not to further the agenda of the party throughout Vermont.

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

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