As expected, Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint has joined the race for Congress. To get to the payoff right away, I still list Lt. Gov. Molly Gray as the early favorite. But Balint will be a tough, engaging campaigner. And she’ll have to be.
Let’s start with the job she already has. No sign that she’ll step away from the Pro Temship, which would be a disaster for the Legislature; there are no obvious candidates to take her place in a very tricky job. And this is going to be one hellacious session. No time for a rookie leader.
But if she remains as Pro Tem, Balint will have a really difficult job that will take up a lot of time and energy. This session won’t be easy. Can she campaign during the session? Can she wait until June and still manage to be competitive? Can she raise money? Not only in Vermont, but nationally?
Besides all that, when you’re the House or Senate leader, you can’t define your own political profile. Your job is to get a majority together on crucial votes without alienating anyone you might need down the road. Your task is crafting acceptable compromises, not spearheading the charge.
So it ain’t gonna be easy. But Balint is a gutsy, energetic, determined individual — to me, the single most impressive person in the Legislature — and I won’t be surprised if she wins the Democratic primary.Continue reading