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Progressives May Run Against Shumlin in 2014

In 2010, the Progressives supported Democratic candidate Peter Shumlin because he embraced three of their core issues:

  • The creation of a single payer health care system.
  • Closing down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
  • Same sex marriage.

But the Progressives’ enthusiasm for Shumlin took a big hit in the recent legislative session.
They were very disappointed that the Governor opposed efforts to reform the state’s income tax system. They were also puzzled about why he proposed taking $17 million from a tax credit program for low income working people to pay for an expansion of child care services.

Burlington Representative Chris Pearson is the party’s caucus leader in the Vermont House. He says Shumlin’s actions make it very difficult for the Progressives to support him in 2014.

“Being very hostile in this last session and not a lot of evidence of seriousness around the health care issue around single payer,” says Pearson. “It’s going to be hard for us.”

Pearson says there are a number of options the Progressive Party could explore in next year’s gubernatorial election.

“Does somebody run with the Progressive banner but the Party isn’t putting their all into it?” he says. “Or do we all decide to get behind one person? There are just any number of ways it could all go down.”

Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says there’s no question that there’s a serious rift between the Progressives and Shumlin.

“I think in part because Shumlin’s been in office longer, in part because there have been some changes in some key figures in the Progressive Party, in part because they see policy disagreements between themselves and the Administration.,” says Davis.  “I wouldn’t be surprised if the Progressives were to run a candidate of their own for Governor in 2014.” 

And Davis says Shumlin also faces some criticism from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

“A Progressive candidacy coupled with the discontent with Shumlin among the Democratic base would require the Governor to pay attention to some of these policy issues on which there’s a disagreement on the part of the Progressive Party with a capital P and progressive Democrats with small P.”

The Progressives could make a decision about running a candidate in next year’s gubernatorial race at their state convention in November.

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