Leaders of Vermont's Progressive Party say they'll likely focus on House and Senate races this year instead of putting forward a gubernatorial candidate.
In the 2010 and 2012 elections, Progressive Party officials established three goals for Democratic candidate Peter Shumlin.
They wanted him to support a single payer health care system, work to close down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, and support economic development policies to help working Vermonters.
Rep. Chris Pearson, P-Burlington, says that over the past four years, Shumlin, has achieved two of these three goals; fighting for single payer and shutting down Vermont Yankee. But Pearson says Shumlin’s record on economic issues hasn’t been what many Progressives were hoping for.
The Progressives chose not to run a candidate against Shumlin in 2010 and 2012 although they didn’t specifically endorse him in those races. Pearson says it’s likely that the party will follow the same approach this year.
“Health care is a big goal and if we can get this right in Vermont and, to his credit, the governor has been very far out in front in this issue,” Pearson said. “And people worry that he’s backing off -- I worry that he’s backing off. But the fact is he has attached his reputation to that issue.”
Pearson says he feels it makes more sense for the Progressive Party to allocate its limited resources to help elect more members to the Legislature.
“For our little party it’s a lot of our resources to have a serious candidate for governor,” Pearson said. “And we have been focused and probably will continue to be focused on House and Senate races where we are having a real impact on the discussion.”
Chittenden County Senator David Zuckerman agrees with the plan to put a greater emphasis on Statehouse races.
“I’m not sure yet that I’m to the point where we should run in that race,” said Zuckerman. “When you look at the impact that the three of us in the Senate have, and the five in the House have, relative to the size of those chambers we, I think, have an impact larger than our numbers. And so every time we add someone in either chambers it shifts the dynamic.”
Two years ago, there was a recount in the Progressive gubernatorial primary between Annette Smith and Party chair Martha Abbott.
Abbott was declared the winner. She then withdrew from the race so that Shumlin wouldn’t face a Progressive challenger in the general election contest.