Progs, Dems promise not to split vote

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(Host) The latest vote count in the governor’s race shows Independent Anthony Pollina edging out Democrat Gaye Symington for second place.

Democrats, Independents and Progressives are now looking back at the race, and they promise not to divide their vote in the future.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The day after Election Day was a day of reflection for Independent Anthony Pollina.

Governor Jim Douglas won with about 55 percent of the vote – a comfortable margin over his two main opponents. But Pollina says Democrats, independents and Progressives can be successful if they coalesce around issues rather than personalities.

(Pollina) "I think the lesson is that a consensus candidate would have been able to defeat the incumbent governor. And there are a lot of people who I think are wishing in hindsight that that was the direction we had moved in. And we had reached out to folks and tried to do that. I do think it’s important that we build that consensus and I think it has to be built around the issues that are important to people…"

(Dillon) Pollina says he hopes to work with activists around the state to avoid the kind of contest in which opposition candidates split the vote and the incumbent wins.

(Pollina) "I don’t think it’s just about a political decision, you know, let’s all get together behind somebody who can win. I want us to get together behind someone who will actually stand up for working families and is really committed to real health reform and you know doing the right thing."

(Dillon) Pollina has run three statewide races in the last decade as a Progressive or Independent. In 2002, he ran for lieutenant governor and won about 25 percent of the vote. Republican Brian Dubie beat both Pollina and Democrat Peter Shumlin.

Shumlin is now the leader of the Vermont Senate. He says voters care less about party labels than they do about results.

(Shumlin) "I think that there simply won’t be the tolerance for that kind of race any more. Look at the policy here. We agree on policy. And the fact is that Vermonters have never felt more pain. They’re going through extraordinary pain. And they don’t really care if you’re a P or a D. What they care is that we get the job done."

(Dillon) Pollina says he may run for office again. But Shumlin – his former rival – is dismissive.

(Shumlin) "You can’t make the same mistake three times and be forgiven. And let’s be honest about this, Anthony has now run three statewide races, two for governor, one for lieutenant governor and we continue to get the same outcome. So I just don’t think you’re going to see that happen again."

(Dillon) Shumlin said an example of the kind of consensus candidate he would like to see is Tim Ashe, a newly elected senator from Burlington who ran as both a Progressive and a Democrat.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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