The all-but-certain became reality yesterday. Outgoing House Speaker Shap Smith announced he will run for lieutenant governor. Thus making him a political rarity: a person who launches a campaign for one office, abandons it, and resets a candidacy for a different office. (He had killed his bid for governor last fall due to his wife’s illness.)
I’m not surprised. In fact, I’ve been promoting the idea since I first reported it way back on February 8.
At this point, it would be awfully difficult to re-enter the gubernatorial race. …But lieutenant governor? That wouldn’t be so hard.
… Also — and this is crucial for Smith’s personal situation — the job isn’t all that tough. He bangs the gavel in the Senate, he does some soft appearances around the state. He can pretty much set his own schedule.
He’d have a high-profile role at the center of state government. And it’s a great way to build name recognition for a future run at the top job — something Smith would still like to do.
Hey, I was right! You know what they say about blind squirrels and acorns.
Warning: This is pure speculation. It’s not even a rumor. No substance whatsoever. But it’s irresistible. And somewhat believable.
Update: It’s not pure speculation anymore; a prominent backstage figure in Vermont politics has openly put it out there. See below.
So I was talking with an administration functionary about, y’know, this and that, and talk inevitably turned to who might run for governor next year. And a name came up that I hadn’t even thought of, but that makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
The longtime Congressman would immediately sweep aside the rest of the field. Even Phil Scott wouldn’t dare. No Democrat would challenge him; they’d all immediately stampede to the congressional race.
But why would Welch do this? He can stay in Congress as long as he wants to.
Well, let’s make the case. Entirely my speculation here, but follow along, just for the heck of it.