Rumor Central: Can you be the Comeback Kid if you never left?

A juicy little rumor is making the rounds in Democratic circles. There is absolutely no confirmation, and it may simply be a case of wishful thinking on the part of certain Dems. But even so, I’ll invoke Blogger’s Privilege and put it out there.

The rumor: House Speaker Shap Smith might run for lieutenant governor.

At first, I was dubious. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.

For those just joining us, Smith launched a bid for governor last summer. But he pulled out in mid-November, citing his wife’s battle with cancer.  He also announced he would not run for re-election to the House, which also meant abandoning the Speakership at biennium’s end. However, he left the door just a teensy-weensy bit open.

He told reporters that even if the treatments go well, it was unlikely he would re-enter the race.

“Unlikely.” He didn’t completely dismiss the idea.

All right, here’s where we turn to pure speculation.

At this point, it would be awfully difficult to re-enter the gubernatorial race. The two declared candidates, Sue Minter and Matt Dunne, have several months’ worth of head start in fundraising and organization. They are also unencumbered by day jobs, while Smith has a heavy workload as Speaker.

But lieutenant governor? That wouldn’t be so hard. The fundraising bar is much lower, and he could jumpstart an organization thanks to the presumed support of [most of] the House Democratic caucus. If he were to enter the race, he would instantly be the favorite in the Democratic primary and the general election. (See below.)

Also — and this is crucial for Smith’s personal situation — the job isn’t all that tough. He bangs the gavel in the Senate, he does some soft appearances around the state. He can pretty much set his own schedule.

He’d have a high-profile role at the center of state government. And it’s a great way to build name recognition for a future run at the top job — something Smith would still like to do.

As for Smith instantly becoming the favorite, here’s my reasoning.

The current front-runner, Sen. David Zuckerman, is a P/D with the emphasis on the P, and that’s a negative for many Dem loyalists. I imagine there are a lot of Dems who’d rather not see a Progressive a heartbeat away from the governorship.

The pure-D Democrat in the race, Rep. Kesha Ram, just fired her campaign manager and didn’t replace him. That speaks of difficulties in organization and finance.

It leaves an opening for a high-profile Democrat to swoop in and seize the nomination. And, mirabile dictu, the Smith rumors are circulating in the immediate aftermath of Ram’s campaign shakeup.

Smith would also have little trouble disposing of retread Republican Randy Brock in the general election. Zuckerman would be favored over Brock as well, but Smith would be a sure thing.

This all presupposes that Smith’s wife, Dr. Melissa Volansky, is progressing well enough that he’d be willing to reverse course. If her prognosis is good, then no one would blame Smith for re-entering the political wars.

Or, considering that he is still Mr. Speaker, it might be more accurate to say that he never would have left.

Do I think this is really happening? Eh, not really. It’s more likely a case of wishful thinking among the party faithful. But would I be shocked if he ran? Heck, no.

So, what say you, Dear Reader? Have I gone round the deep end, or does this seem plausible to you?

(By the way, I did try to contact Smith about all of this. I haven’t heard back. If I do, and he says anything on the record, I’ll append it to this post.)

3 thoughts on “Rumor Central: Can you be the Comeback Kid if you never left?

  1. David Ellenbogen

    Very disappointed to see that you are trying to start, not even report, rumors. That’s not what I read your blog for.

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Okay, a couple of things. First, I’m not starting a rumor. I’m writing about a rumor that’s already circulating.

      Second, c’mon, man. I am one guy writing a blog for free. Don’t expect a fully-staffed ground game here.

      Third, there’s a difference between a blog and a journalistic operation. Besides little things like resources and stuff. A blog is less formal. Bloggers occupy a different niche in the information ecosystem.

      I’m sorry if one of my posts failed to meet your expectations, but I think the problem is on your end, not mine.

  2. newzjunqie

    Insight clear, some takeaways have proven prescient. Blogosphere is the news before it’s news. In-depth & online papers do the investigative reporting only seen in large national papers. Another service: tea-leaf reading free of charge!

    Announcement may have been misunderstood, some ppl say ‘he’s out’ and likely is but options preserved. Recollection is that suspended campaign meaning he could return at anytime by filing deadline. Always believed he would continue operating in VT politics, most likely congress. As Shummys’ lieutenant and surrogate probably the best position to occupy other than statehouse esp if Minter (another surrogate) were to win (she won’t), would be poised to move into the top job when open.

    Don’t think D/P brand will make it unless opponents weak or seats unchallenged. Veto-proof was lost last year, expect more of the same. If Milne could stumble into top-job-he could win lite. Randy Brock, who is respected in VT has good name recognition, solid reputation & credentials, could also win lite-gov.

    Media in VT not reporting plight of unhappy-camper–only happy-campers admitted. Dedicated to maintain status quo & together serve as protector of leftwing politics. Rude awakening awaits. Misery, anger, frustration & outrage of VTers will be remembered in November. Exucutive takeover of education and healthcare in VT & bungling both will hurt. Lie of Shummycare, as in it’s not costing less as promised nor ever will & VHC costing 4 times what he promised, up to 10 times more than federal & unaffordable. Nothing but a huge giveaway to corporate interests, hospitals, pharma, nonprofit ‘partners’ while attempting to drive out non-hospital owned private practice doctors by using them to balance books for ongoing abject failure. Threatened takeover of CMS role & seizing of all VT healthcare revenue coming into state has made seniors and others livid. If victorious also expect them to attempt strong-arming of Erisa, VA , Tricare. Carbon tax & renewable debate will also hurt them. Managed to load the cannon with plenty of fodder.

    Both Shap & Minter are connected to Shummy. Dems & Progs will share blame & will also continue this unsustainable path. Continuing the shake-down of VT middle class & working poor plus extracting every dime we have & whatever’s left.


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