Who will run against Jim Douglas?

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(Host) A big question looms on the Vermont political

scene in the coming weeks.

Will Democrats and Progressives agree on a consensus candidate to run against Governor Jim Douglas in 2008?

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) While there’s a spirited discussion going on between many Democrats and Progressives about strategies for the 2008 gubernatorial race, there is one issue that they agree on: in order for any challenger to have a realistic chance of defeating Jim Douglas next year, the race has to be a two person contest.

Three Democrats, Senate Majority leader John Campbell, former state senator Matt Dunne and former ambassador Peter Galbraith are considering this race and Progressive Anthony Pollina is being encouraged by many members of his party to enter the contest.

The candidates say they’re talking with each other in the hope of finding a consensus candidate, but reaching a decision is proving to be a difficult job.

That’s because some moderate Democrats don’t want to support Pollina and a number of Progressives aren’t thrilled with the Democratic choices.

Middlebury College Political Science professor Eric Davis thinks Pollina has an advantage over the Democrats:

(Davis) "I believe that Anthony Pollina could run a stronger race against Jim Douglas than any of those three Democrats. Now, Douglas is going to be hard to defeat –  incumbent governors in Vermont don’t lose. However, if you look at Pollina’s record in the 2002 race for Lt. Governor he did quite well in the northern part of the state…and Pollina should run more strongly against Douglas in those five counties than a Democrat."

Davis thinks it’s possible that the Democrats and Progressives will eventually reach an agreement to field a consensus candidate in the race for governor and Lt. Governor:

(Davis) "Under this scenario, Anthony Pollina would enter the Democratic primary so he could be listed as the candidate for governor with both the Progressive and the Democratic labels and the Progressives would not run a candidate for Lt. Governor so that a Democrat could run for Lt. Governor, enter the Progressive primary and also be listed on the ballot as both a Democrat and a Progressive…because in 3 person races the incumbent Republicans will certainly win."

The Progressives say they’ve launched an ambitious fund raising effort to demonstrate strong support for a Pollina candidacy.  They hope to raise at least $100,000 by the middle of January – that’s more money than has ever been raised for a statewide Progressive candidate in Vermont.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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