The Democratic Party State Committee met Saturday in Montpelier, and gave its endorsement to the Party’s expected slate with one exception: Dean Corren, Progressive candidate for Lieutenant Governor. He did not actually seek an official endorsement from the state committee, but he did address the gathering and asked for their support in getting people to write in his name in the August primary.
“I got into this race on one issue,” he said, “Single payer health care.” He described this as a critical time for the issue, and said “We need a Lieutenant Governor working shoulder to shoulder with Governor Shumlin. I would be a good partner in this fight.”
(He didn’t say, but I will, that the Lieutenant Governor casts tie-breaking votes in the Senate. If Corren’s there, passing single-payer becomes easier than if Phil Scott wields the gavel. That, in itself, is a powerful incentive for Democrats, Progressives and liberals to unite behind Corren, no matter how much of a nice guy Scott may be.)
He also emphasized his common ground with the Democrats on two key issues: campaign finance reform and renewable energy. Since he qualified for public financing, you could say he has struck a real blow on the issue of money in politics. On energy, he pointed to his own professional involvement in climate change and green energy.
He also addressed the past (and for some, present) tensions between Democrats and Progressives. “We are more interested in progress than in bashing anyone.”
There was a lot of favorable reaction in the room. Corren took several questions, and all were supportive.Longtime committee member Bill Sander recalled past times when the party actively considered endorsing Republican challengers to then-Congressman Bernie Sanders, on the theory that they could get rid of Bernie and then beat the Republican two years later. Now, Sander said, “Our goal is to further the policies we believe in,” and that includes working alongside Bernie instead of trying to undercut him.
Some committee members obviously wanted to go ahead with an endorsement, but it wasn’t on the agenda. John Wilmerding of Windham County posited an endorsement via the transitive property: the state committee had previously endorsed then-candidate John Bauer; since then, Bauer has endorsed Corren; and if A equals B and B equals C, then maybe the committee has already, kinda-sorta, endorsed Corren. No one argued the point, but it remained in the unofficial realm.
After his presentation, Corren had a brief media scrum in the hallway. He pronounced himself “extremely” encouraged by the committee’s reaction. “It was wonderful. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
He was asked if he’d run into any Dem/Prog tensions in his contacts with party officials. “Actually, I haven’t,” he said. “My calls to state committee members and county chairs and so forth have all been incredibly positive.”
After this week’s anti-Prog comments from a few state senators, it was good to see the Democratic hierarchy taking a more positive view of Corren. Maybe the “Dems for Phil Scott” idea is mostly a creation of the Senate’s clubby, cloistered atmosphere.
I certainly hope so.