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Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Utility Executive Pondering Democratic Bid To Unseat Phil Scott

Christine Hallquist is running for the Democratic nomination for governor.
courtesy of Christine Hallquist
Christine Hallquist says she'll decide this month whether to run for Governor

A longtime Vermont utility executive says she’s strongly considering running for governor as a Democrat.

Christine Hallquist, the CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, says she’s been contemplating a bid to unseat Republican Gov. Phil Scott for months. But she says her experience at the women’s march in Montpelier earlier this month pushed her closer to a decision.

“One of the things the Me Too movement has been pushing is that we need to get involved in politics,” Hallquist says.

Hallquist says she expects Vermont to face potentially severe financial headwinds under the Republican administration of President Donald Trump.

“I consider myself a very strong leader. I think I’ve demonstrated strong leadership,” Hallquist says. “And I think that’s what Vermont needs to face some of these headwinds.”

"I consider myself a very strong leader. I think I've demonstrated strong leadership. And I think that's what Vermont needs to face some of these headwinds." — Christine Hallquist

Hallquist is an openly transgender woman who shared her transition in 2015 publicly, and would be the first openly transgender person to represent a major party in a gubernatorial election. If she hopes to unseat Scott in November, however, she’ll first have to defeat environmental advocate James Ehlers in a Democratic primary.

Columnist John Walters, at Seven Days, first reported news of Hallquist’s possible candidacy. Hallquist says she expects to make a final decision by Feb. 20.

Hallquist, 61, says she thinks some voters “are probably struggling with the fact that I’m transgender.”

“I would ask them to look beyond the fact that I am transgender, and look to what my history of leadership has done,” Hallquist says.

Most recently, Hallquist says, she’s used those leadership skills to turn around a Vermont utility that was struggling to stay afloat when she took over as CEO in 2005. Vermont Electric Cooperative had recently been hit with negative outlook by ratings agencies when Hallquist took the top job.

“We’ve now gone from where we were in late 2005 to today, where we’re an A+ rated company by Standard and Poor’s,” Hallquist says.

Hallquist, who lives in Hyde Park, describes herself as a “fiscal conservative,” but says she supports a $15 minimum wage. If she does decide to run, Hallquist says her campaign will have a special focus on economic development in rural parts of the state.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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