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Progressive To Seek Democratic Support In Lieutenant Governor Campaign

Dean Corren
Dean Corren for Vermont Lieutenant Governor/Facebook

The Progressive candidate for Vermont lieutenant governor plans to go before Vermont Democrats this weekend to ask for their support.

Progressive Dean Corren is challenging incumbent Phil Scott, the only Republican to hold statewide office, for Vermont’s second-highest elected position. The Democratic Party State Committee will meet this weekend to endorse the candidates for auditor, treasurer and attorney general, governor and Congress.

No Democrat is running for lieutenant governor, and the Progressive Party’s Corren plans to ask Democrats for their support.  “The chair of the party invited me to speak and I’ll be going there to make my case. Not only that we have a lot at stake as far as the policies for Vermont in this race and a lot of priorities that the Democratic party cares about, and the Progressive party cares about. And it’s a great opportunity here in a number of ways to work together in a very productive way as we’re really concerned about what happens in Vermont. So my job is to convince them of that and also that we can have a very exciting race here and accomplish a lot together.”
Corren, who is one of the founders of the Vermont Progressive Party, has been endorsed by incumbent Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin. Corren believes that’s due to his work on single-payer health care.  “The need to work on that issue together, which is going to be extremely difficult to carry out, is the main reason that I’m running in this race. Because we need a lieutenant governor, we only have two general purpose statewide officers in Vermont, the governor and the lieutenant governor. And to have a lieutenant governor who’s dragging his feet. He’s still staying skeptical about the benefits of single payer. We need to move forward. We need to get the details right so that we capture those benefits. So that’s the overriding issue and that’s why the governor endorsed me. That’s why it’s very credible for me to win the Democratic nomination.”

Seven Days Political Columnist Paul Heintz says for years Democrats and Progressives battled in Vermont, but in the last few years have realized they’re better off when they join forces on some issues. Heintz says Corren is not the first Progressive to seek Democratic support.  “We’ve seen a movement, especially within the state Senate, where a number of candidates have run successfully as hybrid candidates.  So they run as Democrat/Progressive or Progressive/Democrat and they’ve found some success with this. We saw this at the statewide level two years ago when Doug Hoffer won the state auditor position as a Democrat/Progressive. That’s the first statewide candidate who’s done that. And I think what you’re seing here is that Dean Corren realizes that’s his secret to success in Vermont right now.  And he realizes that he really does need to have that D label to attract some voters who will not vote for a straight Progressive.”

Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis believes that with no Democrat in the lieutenant governor’s race, Corren is working to receive enough write-in votes for the August 26 primary to win the nomination and be listed on the general election ballot as both a Democrat and Progressive.  “Whether or not Corren is supported or endorsed by the Democratic state committee means less than whether he can convince enough people to go to the polls, in what’s otherwise going to be a very low turn-out primary, and write his name in on the Democratic ballot. Now I should note that some moderate to conservative Democrats, led by Senator Dick Mazza of Colchester, are also trying to drum up support for writing in the name of Republican Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott in the Democratic primary. Scott is well liked, but on some issues Corren argues that his positions are closer to those of most Democrats in Vermont, as well as to Governor Shumlin, than Scott’s are.”

Calls to the Vermont Democratic Party were not returned in time for broadcast.