The Eternal General bows to the inevitable

It only took him about five months to figure it out, but Bill Sorrell finally announced today that he will not seek an eleventy-billionth term as Vermont’s Attorney General.

The end has been obvious to all since the early May appointment of former State Rep. Tom Little to head an independent investigation of Sorrell’s illegal (or at least thoroughly squicky) campaign finance activities.

SorrellZevonReally, the end has been all but obvious since Sorrell’s disastrous decision last March to throw the book at Dean Corren for an insignificant-at-best violation of the public financing law. Sorrell had alienated a lot of people over the years with his overzealous prosecution of campaign finance law and his underzealous pursuit of just about everything else in his purview. L’affaire Corren left him friendless in Montpelier and in Democratic and Progressive circles (he long ago lost the Republicans), with the possible exception of Sorrell’s political godfather, Howard Dean.

Today, the end came not with a bang, but an emailed whimper. Paul Heintz:

For a man who has spent much of his adult life in public service, Sorrell made his announcement in a remarkably low-key fashion. Rather than holding a press conference, he delivered the news in a terse, five-sentence statement emailed to reporters Monday afternoon.

Unsurprisingly, he couldn’t see any advantage to be gained from taking questions at his own political funeral.

It was noted, pointlessly, that the independent probe would continue. As if there was any legitimate doubt: Sorrell won’t be leaving office for more than a year. And even if he were packing up tomorrow, it wouldn’t excuse any past offenses. Plus, there’s great value in seeing the process through.

In a brief phoner with VPR’s Peter Hirschfeld, Sorrell denied his decision was related to his legal entanglements: “I had plans to have this be my last term for pretty close to five years now actually.”

English teachers are cringing at that, but full credit to Sorrell for getting through it without bursting into laughter. “Pretty close to five years now actually,” my aunt Fanny.

The door is wide open for Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan, who declared his candidacy in June. It’s doubtful he will face significant opposition from a Democrat or a Progressive; the Republicans are likely to gin up a warm body to occupy the ballot slot, but their attention is focused almost entirely on the race for governor and the Legislature. Any statewide office below Lieutenant Governor is unlikely to draw any viable Republican candidates. Says here TJ Donovan is your next Attorney General.

Speaking of whom, Donovan released a brief statement wishing Sorrell “well in his future endeavors.” I doubt that Donovan is a pro-wrestling fan, but if he is, that’s an apropos callout to a choice bit of wrestling jargon. Whenever a wrestler is dismissed by a company, s/he is said to be “future endeavored,” as the company always uses that phrase in its release announcement. It’s kinder than the more accurate “good riddance.”

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