For months now Democrats have merely been in the speculative phase in terms of having a candidate for governor. First "Young Dunne," former state legislator Matte Dunne who nearly took down Brian Dubie two years floated his name, but reneged. Peter Gailbraith, a former ambassador had been floating his name, but he was a second tier candidate at best, without any legislative or executive experience to speak of. Meanwhile, "Tony the Prog," Anthony Pollina, a perennial candidate for the progressive party announced that he was running, and hoped for a two man race. This was a rather sad state of affairs, considering how strongly democratic Vermont is, and the opportunity that a surge of democratic voters in the presidential election could bring us. Then House Speaker Gaye Symington announced that she was going to run, challenging incumbent governor Jim Douglas.
With four years experience as speaker of the house, and a progressive record on health care, the economy, and childcare issues, she is clearly a top tier candidate. Speaker Symington has been a legislator for twelve years, first elected to the house in 1996. During her freshman term as a legislator, she worked to pass Act-60, the plan that funds Vermont's education system. After democrats lost the legislature following backlash from both the aforementioned Act 60, and civil unions, Speaker Symington helped bring the democrats back into the majority in both the house and senate, and they now enjoy a 2/3 majority in both houses. It is because of this, I am asking the netroots to look into Speaker Symington, and contribute. Her website http://symingtonforgovernor.com/ is a bit primitive at the moment, but should be enhanced soon (at least it better be).
Despite her qualifications, she still faces steep odds, especially in a three way race. Under the Vermont Constitution, if none of the candidates receive a majority of the votes, then the legislature chooses the governor. Jim Douglas was elected in 2002 with 45% of the vote to Doug Racine's 42%. The democratic legislature chose Douglas as he was the vote leader, despite having the votes to elect Racine. This occurred as many legislators were asked by opponents and constituents to pledge to vote for the popular vote winner. With Anthony Pollina in the race, this will most likely happen again. Symington however, may be planning to just keep Douglas under 50% in an attempt to get the legislature to elect her, who knows?
Currently there are not any polls on the race, but the race will most likely become a fight for moderates. Douglas will keep his base on the right (the 5,000 people who voted for Huckabee in the republican primary) and right of center moderates, Symington will aim for left of center moderates and Pollina will consoldate the far left progressives. Both Scudder Parker in 2006 and Peter Clavelle in 2004 (a former independent mayor of Burlington) aimed for the far left and left of center moderates and couldn't get better than 41%.
With an expected surge in democratic votes, Symington may be able to benefit in ways former gubernatorial candidates could not. 2006 nominee Scudder Parker (his real name) only managed 41% despite the overwhelmingly democratic year. Others however, were able to capitalize on the strong democratic leanings of the elections. Brian Dubie, the republican LT. Governor barely received a majority of votes (51%). Had he not received a majority, the legislature could have chosen democratic nominee Matt Dunne as LT Governor. Tom Salmon son of a former governor of the same name, managed a narrow victory over incumbent Randy Brock to become the newest auditor of accounts. These democrats were able to utilize the strong democrats tide of 2006, and Symington can and will utilize the democratic leanings of 2008, all she needs to get elected is your support? Will you step up?