Three Democratic candidates for governor are crisscrossing the state in search of money, volunteers and, of course, votes. But a fourth person is now hinting at a run, and former Windham Senator Peter Galbraith says he’d bring the progressive voice that the field currently lacks.
Peter Galbraith says he doesn’t have anything against Sue Minter, Shap Smith or Matt Dunne.
“Look, I think they’re all good people, I think they would all be good governors,” Galbraith says.
The problem, according to Galbraith, is that none of these Democrats has embraced the key planks of a progressive agenda.
“But they are really not articulating the broader themes I’d like," explains Galbraith, "of a higher minimum wage, economic justice, real campaign finance [reform, and] health care.”
Galbraith, who served two terms in in the state senate, is also a Democrat.
But he says, perhaps he’ll be the person to assume the progressive mantle in the 2016 race for governor. Galbraith says a platform that includes raising the minimum wage, ending corporate tax breaks and resurrecting the push for publicly funded health care could provide the left with the candidate it’s been seeking.
“Even if one doesn’t win, one can create a debate, and the debate can bring politicians along to positions that are a lot fairer than the system we have now,” says Galbraith.
It isn’t the first time Galbraith has toyed with a run for statewide office. In 2008, the Townshend resident publicly considered running against Republican incumbent Gov. Jim Douglas. Galbraith, a career diplomat who formerly served as U.S. Ambassador to Croatia under President Bill Clinton, decided against a run in 2008. He later served two terms in the state senate.
Galbraith was a controversial figure in the Statehouse, often bucking heads with party leaders over hot-button issues like physician-assisted death and universal health care.
“He was not always admired by all of his colleagues, who sometimes thought of him as a maverick who was more interested in personal publicity than actually seeing the Legislature accomplish things,” says Eric Davis, professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College.
Davis says there’s definitely an opening in the Democratic primary for someone looking to court progressive voters.
“Whether the number of those small-p progressives is large enough to elect a candidate in a four-candidate field is yet to be seen,” Davis says.
Morgan Daybell, vice-chairman of the Vermont Progressive Party, says he agrees with Galbraith that none of the current crop of Democratic candidates is upholding the values that Progressives hold dear.
But Daybell says the solution isn't to add another Democrat in the field. Daybell says he's confident that the Vermont Progressive Party will have a candidate in the field by the time the election season arrives in earnest.