“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
— Revelation 3:16
One of the minor sidelights of our state campaign season is the issue of endorsements, especially on the Democratic side. Do you support the hometown favorite, or the party stalwart? The one who wants to be the 44th male president, or the one who wants to be the first female?
You can sense the pressure in the way things filter out. Established officeholders who don’t have to face the electorate? Peter Shumlin and Pat Leahy go for Hillary Clinton. Officeholder who will be on the ballot this year? Peter Welch is studiously neutral.
Non-officeholders contending for top Democratic nominations? Matt Dunne, Dave Zuckerman, and Kesha Ram have all endorsed Bernie.*
*As a correspondent informed me, I made a quick-draw mistake there. Zuckerman and Ram are officeholders, of course. I wrote in haste, and I apologize to Zuckerman and Ram for the attempted impeachments.
And then there’s Sue Minter, who hadn’t said anything publicly about the race until this week, when she half-heartedly indicated a preference in an interview with WCAX’s Kyle Midura. It wasn’t pretty.
She called both candidates “exceptional,” and then wandered her way through this little mess:
Minter: “I believe Bernie, ahh, is going to be my candidate.”
Midura: “Asked to distinguish between an endorsement and telling people who she plans to vote for, Minter cited a focus on her own candidacy.”
Minter: “Who I vote for is my business, but I will — since you asked, I will let you know.”
Sheesh. I’m sorry, but that’s just weak.
I understand that Minter is in a uniquely uncomfortable position here. She’s female, and angling for the crucial support of EMILY’s List. That argues in favor of Clinton. Plus, she’s more of an insider Democrat than Dunne; her former boss, Governor Shumlin, is backing Clinton. On the other hand, Bernie is, well, Bernie of the 83 percent approval rating. There are legitimate reasons to be pulled in both directions.
But if you’re going to make a decision, then make it. Be positive.
Or just keep it on the q.t. Wrap yourself in the mantle of Peter Welch. That’d work.
The people Midura interviewed all say the endorsements aren’t going to make much, if any, difference in the gubernatorial or Lite-Guv primary contests. After all, as VDP Executive Director Conor Casey pointed out, the presidential contest will have been decided long before the August primary. By then, Democrats will have unified and turned their attention to beating the Republicans.
Minter’s pale non-endorsement of Bernie, in itself, isn’t that big a deal. But what it is, is part of an emerging narrative of a campaign that can’t quite seem to get out of its own way.
It doesn’t kill her campaign, not in the least. But it is one more brick in the wall.