The Progressive Party’s State Committee met on Saturday, and decided to stay out of the race for governor. Which strikes me as a small but measurable setback for Peter Galbraith, the self-described progressive choice.
As reported by Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck, the Committee did endorse Sen. David Zuckerman for lieutenant governor and the re-election bid of Auditor Doug Hoffer. No surprises there.
But the Committee opted not to endorse any of the three Dems running for governor, even though Galbraith, Sue Minter, and Matt Dunne each addressed the gathering in hopes of earning the nod. There were two major factors in the non-decision, party chair Emma Mulvaney-Stanak told me.
First, the Progs’ 2010 decision to stay out of the gubernatorial race in hopes that Peter Shumlin would deliver on single-payer health care and other key issues. “That left a very bad taste in Progressives’ mouths,” she said, and little enthusiasm for supporting a Democrat.
And second, the Democratic candidates failed to inspire the Committee. “None brought a Progressive ‘wow factor,’” she explained.
Their presentations were pretty similar. They didn’t exactly make a strong case for why the Progressive Party should endorse them. They seemed unwilling to go beyond what the Democratic establishment supports
All three have tried to wrap themselves in the Bernie Sanders mantle. But Galbraith more insistently than the other two. Was Mulvaney-Stanak surprised that Galbraith didn’t impress?
I was a little surprised by that. He spoke a lot about what he did in the Senate. He alluded to raising the minimum wage over time; we favor an immediate increase to $15 an hour. He talked about corporate contributions, he’s big on that; but there’s a disconnect with his own funding situation. [My paraphrase: …which depends on his own wealth and his elite connections.] We favor a grassroots, small-D democratic approach with a lot of small donations instead of a few large ones.
It is a blow to Galbraith’s hopes of becoming the clear choice of the Left in the Democratic primary. And I share Mulvaney-Stanak’s surprise that Galbraith failed to differentiate himself on policy.
At this point, there will be no Progressive endorsement for governor before the August 9 primary. As far as Mulvaney-Stanak knows, no Progressive is running “unless someone is out there gathering signatures I don’t know about.”
How about a Prog endorsement after the primary? That’s an iffy proposition. “Some things would have to shift,” she says. “We would have to see a candidate move in a more Progressive direction.”
“It’s too bad,” she concluded. “In a presidential year, there’s the chance to start a new chapter in Vermont. The Democratic candidates don’t seem to be jumping on that opportunity.”
I’d have to agree. I’m sure I’ll get some blowback from the candidates for saying so, but none of the three has set the world on fire so far. There’s still plenty of time; by typical Vermont standards, the race is only just getting started. There’s time for any of the three to create a positive, distinctive campaign.