Vermont Progressive Party hopes so field candidate against Douglas

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Leaders of the Vermont Progressive Party hope to run a candidate for governor next year.

Party co-chair Martha Abbott says it’s critical to hold the Douglas Administration accountable on a number of key issues – something she says the Democrats have failed to do.

Abbott says many Progressives are urging Anthony Pollina to enter the race.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

In the past few elections, the top priority for the Progressive Party was winning seats in the Legislature, and as a result, they didn’t have their own gubernatorial candidate. Instead they supported the Democratic candidates.

But it seems very unlikely that they’re going to sit on the sidelines for the 2008 race for governor.

Party Co-chair Martha Abbott says the reluctance of many well-known Democrats to run against Governor Jim Douglas next year presents an opportunity for the Progressives:

(Abbott) "People are looking for some vision and political boldness and I think that we’ve seen over the past few gubernatorial campaigns there hasn’t been a lot of fireworks and I think people are ready for some real hard headed politics."

Abbott says it’s very clear that many Progressives would like Anthony Pollina to run for governor. Pollina has run for statewide office before and received roughly 25% of the vote in 2002 when he ran for Lt. Governor.

Pollina says he’s seriously looking at this race because he doesn’t think the Democrats have effectively opposed the policies of the Douglas Administration on a number of key issues -including health care and property tax reform:

(Pollina) "I think the Democrats have for whatever reason – and I’m just as bewildered as the rest of us at times about this – but I think the Democrats have not been able to define the issues in a way that excites and appeals to Vermonters. Perhaps what we need is someone who’s not closely tied to the Legislature someone who’s not closely tied to the Democratic Party who would be able to reshape the debate."

That’s a conclusion that the chairman of the Democratic Party, Ian Carleton, totally rejects:

(Carleton) "If we didn’t have a Democratic legislature just imagine what the state of our energy policy would be and the state of our health care policy we would have had absolutely no forward movement whatsoever on these important issues."

Carleton says he’s convinced the Democrats will field a strong candidate for the 2008 race and he notes that it’s still very early in the election process.

Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis thinks the Progressives could benefit by having a gubernatorial candidate next year:

(Davis) "I think they’re thinking in the long term that they realize they’re not going to elect a governor in 2008 but this could be a way of perhaps keeping Jim Douglas honest on the issues in a way that the Democratic candidate could not and working on building the Progressive Party for future races."

Progressive Anthony Pollina says he hopes to make a final decision about running for governor by the end of September.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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