Cameron Russell is ready to give it another try. He served as campaign manager for Christine Hallquist’s gubernatorial candidacy in 2018; now he’s accepted the same post in Rebecca Holcombe’s bid to unseat Republican Gov. Phil Scott in 2020. Russell had previously been a staffer in the Vermont Democratic Party from 2014 through 2016.
“There is no one in the state better positioned to take on this role,” Holcombe commented in a press release, “and I am fortunate to have his experience and knowledge of Vermont’s communities and political landscape as part of my campaign.”
Holcombe began her campaign with staff from outside the state, but had been hoping to attract a manager with Vermont experience. And honestly, there aren’t many of those around.
Russell is giving up a secure job as executive assistant to Dean Nancy Matthews of the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, for a position he well knows is fraught with uncertainty. “Walking away from UVM is not a decision to take lightly,” he said. “But for me, I’ve recognized that’s not what life will be for me.”
Well, maybe someday. But he felt compelled to get back in the game to help elect a candidate who would bring needed changes to the state. “I want Vermont to not be a museum,” he said. Still, he knows he is signing up for a tough battle.
“Anyone running against Phil Scott has a challenge ahead of them,” Russell acknowledged. “But if I’m going to work for [a candidate], I want it to be someone with integrity who’s doing it for the right reasons. And I believe in Rebecca as a person.”
Russell will join the campaign full-time before the end of the year. Holcombe has been campaigning since early summer, but mainly at a grass-roots level, building support and raising funds. This gives her a big advantage over Hallquist, who didn’t launch her 2018 campaign until the spring of that year.
Whether that’s enough to bring down a popular incumbent… well, the odds are not in Holcombe’s favor. But Russell’s experience in Vermont politics — and, if you want to be snarky about it, his first-hand knowledge of how not to defeat Scott — should be a big help to her campaign.