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Former Vermont Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman announces campaign to return to the seat

David Zuckerman
Pat Bradley/WAMC
David Zuckerman (file)

A former Vermont Lieutenant Governor is hoping to get his old job back. Democrat/Progressive David Zuckerman served as Lieutenant Governor from 2017 until 2021 when he lost a race for governor to incumbent Republican Phil Scott. Prior to serving as Lieutenant Governor he was a state senator representing Hinesburg for five years. An organic farmer by trade, he was vice-chair of the chamber’s agriculture committee. He also spent 14 years in the Vermont House. Zuckerman tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley he decided to run again because there are many issues top leadership is not addressing.

Particularly around housing, our rural economy and a lot of marginalized voices. And by returning me to the office of Lieutenant Governor, Vermonters can expect to have an experienced and effective progressive voice who will fight on behalf of working Vermonters and that's what people are looking for. I've called around the state and a lot of people were excited to hear that I was thinking of getting back in.

David, the lieutenant governor though has very limited ability to, you know, propose policy and bills and such in the legislature. So how could you actually advance this based on the experience that you've had in the seat in the past?

That's right. Well, you know, before being Lieutenant Governor I served in the legislature for 18 years. And the way that I got things done as a legislator was to travel the state and talk with people in their neighborhoods, in their church basements, coffee shops, you name it. Now it would be backyards and on porches because of the pandemic. But the point is in talking with people around the state to build momentum for issues that developed pressure in the political system, whether at that point it was in the legislature or maybe at this point it might be with the governor, with respect to the really critical issues of the day from the climate crisis to our rural economy and many, many issues beyond that. Affordable housing is huge and it's going to get more complicated and more difficult for working Vermonters. As we expand broadband, which we need to do, we're going to have a lot of climate and pandemic refugees from New York City, Boston, Connecticut, and for them housing up here is cheap. And for Vermonters it's a struggle.

Do you think that you will be at an advantage or a disadvantage having been out of the office for a term?

I haven't found people that have called say: wait, who are you again? So I don't think there's a major issue. It's only been about a year since the last election. I've been in office in one form or another for 22 years. And a lot of the folks I've talked to feel that I would be well placed in this election. And of course it'll be up to voters to decide so I'm not going to prognosticate too much on that.

It seems like it's going to be a very crowded race. We have a couple of Republicans and we do have some Democrats that have already announced and some that are still considering. Do you believe that you may have an advantage having held the position in the past?

I do think it's an advantage for anybody who runs for office if they've either held such a position statewide or have run statewide. But ultimately, you know, I think every candidate will get themselves out there. And voters are going to have to, you know, kick the tires and look under the hood and feel as though they are supportive in both policy and or gut check on each of us. Having earned a lot of people's votes before in two statewide offices I do think that's an advantage but I'm not going to take it for granted.

David, you have the experience. Why not run for the open congressional or Senate seat?

No doubt those are enticing seats to consider. You know, Peter Welch with a $2 million war chest and statewide experience in Washington I think is going to be a formidable candidate in that race. And in the House race, which is wide open, you know, we have never sent a woman and I think we have some qualified folks running and I would be very happy with one of them in office. And so I don't feel a need to enter that race at this time given the fact that we have good folks running.

And in running for lieutenant governor again was there any issue or any event that really kind of pushed you into saying I need to be in that office again?

Well actually my family has been frustrated by some of the statewide discourse over the last year and the lack of voice for these progressive issues and these fundamental economic issues that have not been elevated. It's all been shattered out by the pandemic. It's been shattered out by the lack of a real champion in a statewide spokesperson role. And so my family said hey in this moment of challenging discourse in democracy, of issues not being addressed, they said you know your voice is one of reason, of openness with respect to listening to people from all sides and really incorporating people into the dialogue, and it's a strong voice for the social, environmental and economic justice issues. And so between those conversations and people around the state sounding excited for me to run I figure I'll give it a go.

And to clarify you are running as a Democrat?

I will run the same way as I have many times. I will be running in the Democratic primary with the hopes to win both that vote and the write-in on the Progressive ballot and then run as both, the way I have been elected now four times prior both in the state Senate and lieutenant governor's office.

So far, David Zuckerman faces former House member Catherine “Kitty” Toll, Woodstock Representative Charlie Kimbell and Vermont Council on World Affairs Executive Director Patricia Preston in a Democratic primary.

Republican Senator Joe Benning and former Rutland GOP chair and businessman Gregory Thayer are also running for Vermont Lieutenant Governor. The seat will be open because first-term Democrat Molly Gray is running for Congress.

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