Could Republican voters be a key factor in the Democratic primary for Attorney General ? Some political observers and one of the campaigns think the answer could be yes.
In two weeks, voters will go to the polls to select the Democratic nominee for Attorney General. It’s a highly competitive race where seven term incumbent Bill Sorrell is being challenged by Chittenden County State’s Attorney T. J. Donovan.
Vermont does not have Party registration and voters can choose which Party’s primary they wish to participate in.
Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says it’s unusual for a candidate to actively court voters from a different party in a primary election but he says that’s exactly what Donovan is doing this summer.
"What you have is Donovan reaching out to well known Republican elected officials," said Davis. "Plus Donovan has the support of several of the law enforcement organizations like the Troopers Association, the Sheriffs Association, which at least in previous election cycles have often endorsed Republican candidates."
Earlier this week, Donovan was endorsed by all 3 members of the Rutland senate delegation – a group that includes Republicans Kevin Mullin and Peg Flory. Previously, Donovan had been endorsed by Rutland mayor Chris Louris. Davis thinks these endorsements could be important in this race.
"If Mullin and Flory and Louris together were able to persuade even a few hundred Republicans in Rutland to take the Democratic ballot in the primary to vote for T.J. Donovan, that sort of thing just could be enough to put T.J. Donovan over the top," Davis said.
Ryan Emerson is Donovan’s campaign manager. He says the campaign is reaching out to voters from all political parties, including the Republicans.
"The office of Attorney General should not be a partisan office. It should be about doing what’s best for Vermonters," said Emerson. "That’s the role of the job and I think T.J. has a strong commitment to fulfilling that responsibility and we have support of Progressives, Democrats, Republicans as well as Independents because of that view."
Mike Pieciak is Bill Sorrell’s campaign manager. He thinks the strategy of trying to attract Republican voters could backfire against Donovan.
"I think that Democratic voters will appreciate the fact that we are championing Democratic ideals and Democratic issues," said Pieciak. "I’d be surprised if true blood Democrats did not find that either regrettable or some what offensive that they would court Republicans in the Democratic primary."
Both campaigns say they’re mounting a strong get out the vote effort for the August 28th primary.