Party Chair Anthony Pollina says the Progressives want to see how Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist addresses some of the top issues facing the state during the next few weeks before they decide if they want to formally endorse her campaign.
At a recent meeting, the Progressive Party formally endorsed two Democratic statewide candidates: Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and Auditor Doug Hoffer. However they decided not to endorse Hallquist at this time.
Pollina says the party needs to learn more about Hallquist's stand on a number of specific issues, including a Vermont-based single-payer health care system.
"It's not as if we've shut the door to supporting her, and I think it's pretty clear that Progressives are not going to get behind Phil Scott — we know that. And a lot of Progressives, I'm sure, are going to get involved in Christine's campaign and will be supporting her,” said Pollina. “It's just a question of whether the party itself will take a unified stand and endorse her later on in the campaign."
Cameron Russell, the campaign manager for Hallquist, says winning the endorsement of the Progressives is a key part of their campaign strategy.
"We would love to have the Progressive endorsement," Russell said. "The main thing, I think, from our point of view is that, you know, we're focused on unity and on winning in November. And we recognize that, you know, the Progressive Party and their membership ... is definitely a part of that."
Russell says Hallquist supports a "Medicare for All" health care model and that there are different ways to achieve this goal.
"We shouldn't get lost in, you know, in the skirmishes of are we going to do it this way, are we going to do it that way? You know, are we only going to do it as Vermont? ... I think we're all on the same page — that, you know, health care as it's happening now isn't working," Russell said.
Matt Dickinson, a political science professor at Middlebury College, says getting the Progressive endorsement could be an asset for the Hallquist campaign.
"I think nothing prevents Progressives from voting for her in the general election, but clearly an endorsement will be, you know, an added bonus — and it comes with some additional perks with the Progressive network working on her behalf officially,” said Dickinson.
But Dickinson says the endorsement could turn into a liability if Hallquist ends up embracing most of the Progressive agenda.
"She has to keep her eye on the prize — so yes, it'd be nice to have the Progressives behind you, but I don't think at a cost of potentially alienating that more moderate voting pool that did not show up for the primaries, but will show up for the general election,” said Dickinson.
Hallquist has however just picked up a labor endorsement: The Vermont NEA — the state's teachers union — says it's backing her because "she will forge a better path for schools, communities, and children."