How to kill a political career in one easy step

Ruh-roh, Raggy. Looks like a budding politico is in danger of failing to get out of the starting gate.

Following the news that D.C. journalist (and Vermont native) Garrett Graff was coming home to run for lieutenant governor, Seven Days’ Paul Heintz pointed out the elephant in the room: State law requires candidates for the state’s top two offices to “have resided in this State four years next preceding the day of the election.”

Secretary of State Jim Condos felt the need to consult with the Attorney General’s office over that tortuous bit of legalese. Well, he has, and in a follow-up post by Terri Hallenbeck, the news isn’t good for Young Graff.

…Condos said that after studying residency requirements for candidates in the Constitution of Vermont and consulting with the Attorney General’s Office, “We are not sure how Mr. Graff could meet this.”

Hoo boy. This could be the biggest political boner in Vermont since “Six Teats.”

For his part, Graff believes there’s no doubt he qualifies.

“I’m a Vermonter. I was born in Vermont, and I wake up every day of my life a Vermonter,” he said via email Monday. “I’ve consulted with the state’s leading expert on election law, Paul Gillies, and I have no doubt that I meet the residency requirement. He said it’s ‘not even a close call.’”

Condos’ rejoinder: Graff may meet the qualifications for voter registration, but that has nothing to do with running for lieutenant governor.

Even if he does overcome this statutorial hurdle, there’s a curious note in Seven Days’ story that won’t help Graff establish his bona fides among Democrats:

Graff is registered to vote in Montpelier, City Clerk John Odum said Monday. Odum said Graff voted regularly in general elections from 2004 through 2010, but hadn’t voted there since.

Oopsie.

Hasn’t voted since 2010?

That doesn’t prevent him from running. But it’s one more brick in the wall.

Graff would have a hard enough time convincing Vermont Democrats that he deserves their support despite his absence from the trenches. That image is only reinforced if he runs afoul of state law, and if he’s been too disconnected from state politics to bother casting a vote in the last five years.

Reminder: I have nothing against Garrett Graff. I’ve never met him, and I have no idea where he stands on the issues. He’s obviously a very smart, capable person. But he is in danger of permanently tainting his political brand in Vermont. We are famously prickly about our politicians, and one of the worst things you can be is a carpetbagger.

It might be time to fold the tents, find a job, make a tangible commitment to Vermont politics and the Democratic Party, work the ground game, and keep his powder dry for a better opportunity down the road.

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One thought on “How to kill a political career in one easy step

  1. Brooke Paige

    In Vermont Ballot, Challenges are an Exercise in Futility !

    Who would challenge Mr. Graff’s candidacy since Jim Condos’ election officers take the position the their office “only has a ministerial relationship” to the election process – that is they turn the wheels but have no decision making authority as to the placement of candidates on the ballot OR their qualifications to serve. They contend that Title 17 (Vermont’s Election Law) confers this responsibility to the Superior Court, in the case of statewide elections the Washington Co. Superior Court since that is where the state’s capitol “resides.”

    The “rub” is that “Wild Willy” Sorrell, our eternal Attorney General, has argued before the Vermont Supreme Court that only a competing candidate for the office could challenge the qualifications of his opponent AND this requires the filing of a law suit against the Secretary of State and the unqualified candidate, a process that would most likely take longer than the election process itself, rendering the action “moot” before any judgment was determined !

    H. Brooke Paige
    Washington, Vermont

    Reply

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