Well over a hundred people gathered in the midday sun today, to hear House Speaker Shap Smith officially launch his candidacy for Governor. The crowd was enthusiastic, and nobody keeled over from heatstroke, so there’s that. Several state lawmakers were on hand. So too, interestingly, was Governor Shumlin’s recently departed chief of staff Liz Miller. She wasn’t wearing a “Shap” sticker that I could see*, so maybe her presence was mere coincidence. Mo Vegas is, after all, the place to be.
And if Peter Freyne were still alive, Mr. Speaker might have acquired a new nickname: the Prag Prog.
I say my record is one of pragmatic progressivism.
He also unveiled a campaign logo, “Shap” in large white letters next to a green outline of Vermont, all set against a deep blue background. I would have been tempted to go with “Shapleigh,” but that’s probably why I’m not a candidate.
Holding the event in Morrisville was, I thought, a good move. It emphasized his status as a Vermonter rather than a Statehouse insider, and underlined his speech’s emphasis on ensuring opportunity in every part of Vermont, not just Chittenden County.
My big takeaway: the event highlighted his strengths as a candidate and the big challenges he will face. Most of which revolve around the same thing: his position as Speaker and his central role in Democratic policy initiatives of the past several years.