Well, well. The Burlington Free Press has endorsed David Zuckerman for Lieutenant Governor.
Not that newspaper endorsements are worth the paper they’re largely no longer printed on, but this is the most fascinating one I’ve seen in a while. Zuckerman is arguably the most left-leaning candidate for statewide office we’ve had in a long time with a real shot at winning (sorry, Senator Pollina), and yet the usually conservative Free Press gave him its endorsement without a single mention of Republican Randy Brock.
That’s fascinating thing number one. Number two: when you read the editorial, it’s obvious that this is a bank shot setting up its inevitable endorsement of Phil Scott for Governor.
Number three: the Free Press attempted the rhetorical Triple Lutz of depicting David Zuckerman as a moderating force and a member of that most desirable of political categories, The Real Vermonter.
Sorry about that, Randy.
Now, let’s unpack this little wonder of editorialism.
The Free Press Editorial Board begins by positing that Zuckerman will bring “a measure of independence, regardless of who is elected governor.” Yeah, whether it’s Phil Scott or… Phil Scott. Sure, Zuckerman isn’t a rubber stamp for Sue Minter — but only because he’s significantly to her left. That’s not the kind of balance the Free Press is interested in.
It then notes that “The lieutenant governor has no direct power to implement policy or push through legislation,” which means he’s a safe pick for the Free Press, an easy way for the paper to appear bipartisan. After all, he can’t do any serious damage.
Then we get to the Real Vermonter thing: “Putting a true farmer in high office would speak to Vermont’s agricultural heritage and give voice to the impact of all the state asks of employers.” So, Zuckerman will morph into a Chamber of Commerce sort of guy, I guess?
Next we come to a truly amazing contortion: Zuckerman will be a moderating influence on the marijuana debate.
Here’s how the Free Press explains it, I think. The issue needs “deeper analysis” before we proceed, and Zuckerman is the ideal choice to bring that about.
… because legalization now appears to be a question of when, rather than if, Vermonters would benefit from a thorough examination of the consequences. That discussion is the likely result of electing a lieutenant governor who champions the cause.
And in case any readers were wondering if the Free Press Editorial Board had gone off its nut, it reminds us that the Lite-Guvship “is well suited for someone willing to pursue his own agenda.” Which is a polite way of saying the office is a safe platform for a ponytailed Progressive to sound off without breaking the china.
The Free Press has made an argument for David Zuckerman that it can also deploy, with minimal adjustment, in support of Phil Scott. You’ve gotta admire that kind of mental flexibility.