(Host) Progressive Party leaders say they’ll endorse a Democratic candidate for governor next year if that candidate supports certain policies. Those include: A single payer health care system; closing Vermont Yankee in 2012; and a package of worker rights.
But if no Democratic candidate meets this litmus test, the Progressives say they’re committed to running their own candidate.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Two of the three announced Democratic candidates – state senators Doug Racine and Susan Bartlett – asked to meet with Progressive Party members this summer in an effort to avoid a three-way gubernatorial race in 2010.
Following those meetings, party chairperson Martha Abbott said – quote – "We weren’t wildly impressed with either candidate – that’s not to say either of these candidates couldn’t become that candidate."
Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Anthony Pollina, the party’s gubernatorial candidate in 2008, said he hoped Racine and Bartlett would continue to meet with the Progressives. Pollina says the goal is to get key issues in the public eye.
(Pollina) "How do we frame the debate so that candidates are talking about real issues as early as possible? If you want to run for governor, fine. But let’s talk about some of the issues that are most important to Vermonters. So that’s what we’re doing. We’re playing a leading role in helping Vermonters define the issues and hear some real debates that will lead up to this legislative session. And obviously it will also set the stage for debates in the upcoming campaign."
(Kinzel) The third announced Democratic candidate is Secretary of State Deb Markowitz. She says it’s important for the Democrats and Progressives to open up a dialogue. But she says she has no intention of formally asking to meet with Progressive leaders the way that Racine and Bartlett did.
(Markowitz) "I’m the secretary of state. My job is to be the standard-bearer for democracy. I’m not going to go to another political party and say, ‘Don’t run a candidate.’ You know that’s contrary to my role here. That being said, I’ve been spending this whole campaign reaching out to Vermonters across the political spectrum – Democrats as well as independents, Progressives and even Republicans – because it’s going to take a coalition of voters across the political spectrum to beat Jim Douglas."
(Kinzel) Pollina says he’s very disappointed with Markowitz’s approach.
(Pollina) "It’s a bad attitude and it’s a bad attitude for someone who’s wrapped up in a campaign where you know you have to build a coalition strong enough to defeat an incumbent governor and also build the trust that’s necessary on a political level, which then translates into trust that’s necessary on an issue level."
(Kinzel) If the Progressives decide to run their own gubernatorial candidate, Pollina says there are a number of people who would be good candidates, including Burlington mayor Bob Kiss and Burlington Rep. David Zuckerman.
Pollina says he might also consider running for governor in 2010.
For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier