Looks like Garrett Graff hasn’t given up his ambition of becoming Vermont’s next Lieutenant Governor. As VPR’s Peter Hirschfeld reports, Graff is seeking an official ruling on his eligibility for the 2-16 ballot.
He seems to have run afoul of an oddly-worded Constitutional provision that appears to require four years of Vermont residency preceding the election. Graff, however, had lived in Washington, D.C. for ten years before returning to Vermont, uhh, two months ago.
By the way, is it just me, or does it seem like our Constitution was written by a bunch of drunks? (I mean, “he shall have resided in this State four years next preceding the day of the election,” WTF?) There’s a lot of stuff in there that I’d change if I had a magic wand. Unfortunately, Our Framers devised a maddeningly difficult process for amending the Constitution, so I think we’re stuck with it.
Anyway. First problem with Graff’s request? There is no process for an official ruling. (That darn Constitution again.) Secretary of State Jim Condos says it’s a matter for the courts to decide. Which would involve (a) Graff formally launching a campaign and (b) someone filing a court challenge against him. And even if that process began tomorrow, would the courts deliver a ruling in time for Graff to pursue a credible candidacy? Seems unlikely.
The impression is that Graff failed to do his homework.
Hey Dave, I went to the Burlington Winter Market on Saturday. Bought some of your fine veggies, but you weren’t there. Presumably spending a happy Saturday at the Senate Dems’ Convocation of Cowards. Maybe next time.
Anyway, organic farmer and state senator Dave Zuckerman is now a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, running in the Democratic primary and seeking the Progressive nomination as well. I didn’t attend his kickoff event last Thursday; but here are a few thoughts on Zuckerman and the Lite-Gov race.
— The most interesting participant in Thursday’s festivities, per media reports, was Senate Minority Leader Phil Baruth, who gave a hearty endorsement — “come hell or high water” — of the Prog/Dem Zuckerman. This was a big surprise to me; given the level of Dem>Prog antipathy up Burlington way, I assumed that area Democrats would stand behind Kesha Ram. Without regard to quality; just on the basis of not wanting to help a Progressive win.
Baruth’s stated reasoning boiled down to “I trust him,” a phrase he repeated at least three times. So, he doesn’t trust Kesha Ram?
Note for those freshly landing on this page: Please also see subsequent post with response from Rep. Kesha Ram.
Interesting factoid about the Democratic candidates to succeed Phil Scott. One, Garrett Graff, is in day three of radio silence following reports that he may not qualify to run. One, Brandon Riker, must prove he can be competitive despite a lack of experience and little name recognition. As for the other two?
They each voted “No” on the bill that removes the philosophical exemption to childhood vaccinations.
State Sen. David Zuckerman’s opposition was widely noted, as he made a last-ditch maneuver to derail the bill in the Senate, asserting that the science on vaccine safety is “disputed.”
Well, I guess he’s right that it’s “disputed.” But not by the broad scientific consensus and decades of real-world experience.
Less noted at the time was the “No” vote cast by State Rep. Kesha Ram. As far as I can tell, she kind of went under the radar with her opposition.
While existential doubt continues to swirl around Garrett Graff’s proto-candidacy, yet another liberal has stepped into the race for lieutenant governor. So much hankerin’ for Vermont’s very own bucket of warm spit.
This time, it’s David Zuckerman, Dem/Prog State Senator from Chittenden County, confirming what many had expected: he’s in the race. Originally a Progressive, he’s campaigned for Senate on both Prog and Dem tickets, and he plans to enter the Democratic primary.
And in a sign of the Progs’ perilous position, he probably won’t run at all if he can’t get the Dem nom. This is either a high-stakes gamble, or Farmer Dave is tired of the Senate: he’s trading in a sure thing for what looks like a lottery ticket — one entrant in a field that already includes either two or three Democrats, depending on the disposition of Young Graff’s residency issue. And there may be further entrants from the Senate Democratic caucus, although I suspect that when push comes to shove, most (or all) of them will prove unwilling to let go of their comfy Senate perches.
(Really, can you imagine the likes of John Campbell or Dick McCormack entering a race they’d actually have to work hard to win?)
Zuckerman’s candidacy begins with inconvenient questions about fundraising. He says he may pursue public financing — but Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck reports that he may already be disqualified from that very restrictive process because of his early announcement. (The rules say no campaigning, period, before February 15. Which is far too late in the unprecedentedly early Vermont campaign season.)
Ruh-roh, Raggy. Looks like a budding politico is in danger of failing to get out of the starting gate.
Following the news that D.C. journalist (and Vermont native) Garrett Graff was coming home to run for lieutenant governor, Seven Days’ Paul Heintz pointed out the elephant in the room: State law requires candidates for the state’s top two offices to “have resided in this State four years next preceding the day of the election.”
Secretary of State Jim Condos felt the need to consult with the Attorney General’s office over that tortuous bit of legalese. Well, he has, and in a follow-up post by Terri Hallenbeck, the news isn’t good for Young Graff.
…Condos said that after studying residency requirements for candidates in the Constitution of Vermont and consulting with the Attorney General’s Office, “We are not sure how Mr. Graff could meet this.”
Hoo boy. This could be the biggest political boner in Vermont since “Six Teats.”
It gives me a tingle to see that the Democrats now have three declared candidates for lieutenant governor, and their ages add up to less than 100 (34 + 29 + 28 = 93). Maybe this puts the last nail in the coffin of Sen. Dustin Degree’s claim that the VTGOP is the party of youth. (Heck, if you add any two of the Dems together, they’re younger than the lone Republican candidate, 72-year-old Randy Brock.)
Otherwise, though, the latest entry into the field leaves me wondering: Who asked for this?
Garrett Graff is an accomplished young man. I look forward to hearing what he has to offer, and God knows he’s got plenty of time to reveal it. But look: he hasn’t lived in Vermont since he graduated from high school in 1999. He’s been part of the D.C. media scene since 2004. He is only now relocating to Vermont, just in time to make noises about a candidacy.
Of the five declared candidates for Official Senate Gavel-Warmer, two are perfectly understandable: former State Senator and Auditor Randy Brock, and State Rep. Kesha Ram. After that, the field has an appearance of randomness.