Warning: This is pure speculation. It’s not even a rumor. No substance whatsoever. But it’s irresistible. And somewhat believable.
Update: It’s not pure speculation anymore; a prominent backstage figure in Vermont politics has openly put it out there. See below.
So I was talking with an administration functionary about, y’know, this and that, and talk inevitably turned to who might run for governor next year. And a name came up that I hadn’t even thought of, but that makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
The longtime Congressman would immediately sweep aside the rest of the field. Even Phil Scott wouldn’t dare. No Democrat would challenge him; they’d all immediately stampede to the congressional race.
But why would Welch do this? He can stay in Congress as long as he wants to.
Well, let’s make the case. Entirely my speculation here, but follow along, just for the heck of it.
— As stated above, it’d pretty much be his for the asking. He has more proven electoral appeal than anyone in Vermont not named Pat Leahy or Bernie Sanders. He’s also got a huge bankroll and a seemingly unlimited ability to raise money.
— Welch is in his fifth term as Congressman. He’s in the minority, which is a powerless place to be. Given Republican gerrymandering, it’s almost certain that the House will remain majority Republican until 2022 at least. Maybe he’s getting tired of shouting into the whirlwind.
— He’s 68 years old. If he’s ever going to do anything else, now is the time.
— The continued stubborn incumbencies of Pat Leahy and Bernie Sanders prevent him from running for the Senate, which is what I’m sure he’d like to do. But the window of opportunity remains resolutely closed.
— Becoming Vermont’s Governor would be a hell of a last act to a distinguished political career. He did run for Governor once before, in 1990, and lost to Dick Snelling; he might welcome a second bite at an unbitten apple.
— Clearly he possesses the political chops to be an effective Governor. Not only from his time in Washington, but from his many years in the Legislature. He knows how the place works.
So whaddya think, VPOers? Peter Welch for Governor, anyone?
If it happens, remember where you heard it first.
UPDATE. The National Journal is reporting that Welch may face pressure from top Dems to run for Governor:
Former Shumlin adviser Bill Lofy said without Shumlin in the race, he expects Rep. Peter Welch to face heavy pressure from Democrats to run. “Congressman Welch would be the prohibitive favorite. He has a proven record of representing Vermont successfully in Congress and I think would cause any other potential candidate for governor to take pause before jumping into a race,” Lofy said.
One Vermont Democratic political operative described a potential contest between Scott and Welch as a “battle royale” of the variety most don’t expect from the solidly blue state.
Can’t agree with the last sentiment. I think Welch would absolutely wipe the floor with Phil Scott or any other Republican who dared to run. Especially in a Presidential year.