Jack McMullen is hoping the third time's the charm. After two unsuccessful bids for U.S. Senate, the Staten Island native is now running for attorney general.
"Job one would be to make sure Vermonters continue to feel safe in their homes and communities," McMullen said.
The self-made millionaire knows this race will be an uphill battle. McMullen's trying to unseat an incumbent who's been re-elected seven times. Democrat Bill Sorrell said he's more experienced than his challenger. "My office brings in over 40 million dollars a year, year in year out. And we've won over 90-percent of the cases in which our laws have been attacked," Sorrell said.
Sorrell is from Vermont and graduated from Cornell Law School. He served two terms as Chittenden County's State's Attorney, spent 11 years in private practice and was Secretary of Administration under Governor Howard Dean.
McMullen is a Harvard Law grad who also taught at the school. Sixteen years ago he moved from Massachusetts to Vermont and currently works as a consultant for Internet start-ups.
But both candidates have faced their share of challenges. Sorrell has lost three federal lawsuits -- defending campaign finance laws, prescription data mining and most recently against Entergy Louisiana. Then there's this year's primary. He barely won the Democratic nomination against challenger T.J. Donovan. "At the end of the day, better to win by 700 plus votes than lose by one," Sorrell said.
McMullen knows what it feels like to lose. In 1998 he made national headlines after losing the Republican Senate primary to a dairy farmer. McMullen misspoke about a cow's anatomy and came off sounding out of touch. "Time cures a lot of that. My qualifications cure a lot of that," he said.
McMullen is a member of the bar in New York, Massachusetts and Washington D.C., but he's not yet a lawyer in Vermont. It will be up to voters to decided if that matters. "The attorney general doesn't go to trial court and appeals to federal court and I'm a member of those bars so I could do that for Vermont," McMullen said.
He said drug related crime is the biggest issue facing the state, and wants the AG to be more aggressive about punishing violent offenders and drug dealers. Sorrell wants to put more money into drug treatment programs. Both candidates agree police should have unfettered access to the state's prescription drug monitoring database. "We ought to let them do their work in the most efficient ways possible, being mindful of constitutional protections," Sorrell said.
When it comes to marijuana, both candidates are calling for decriminalization. Sorrell says carrying a small amount of pot for personal use should be a civil offense -- while McMullen says criminal charges should start on the fourth offense. "That's a good first step to see if we can liberalize these drug laws and clear up the courts," McMullen said.
Vermont Yankee is where these candidates butt heads. "The main thing I'm going to do is fight, fight, fight to uphold the Vermont law that gives our legislature a say about the continued operation of that plant," Sorrell said.
McMullen said that plan is a mistake. Rather than fight Entergy in court, he would make a deal with them. "Then I would go to Entergy say, let's talk about greater safety measures, let's talk about greater transparency in exchange for me pulling this appeal," he said.
According to the latest campaign finance reports, Sorrell has spent roughly $141,000 in his bid for re-election. McMullen has spent about $176,000 trying to unseat him.
The progressive in the race for Vermont Attorney General is Ed Stanak. Stanak has spent the last three decades working for state government. He recently retired as the Act 250 coordinator for District 5. He is not a lawyer but says he spent four years in a court clerkship.
"I clearly understand the line between activist and process and balance, so I would not be out there unconstrained. I do realize that there are limits for the attorney general. But having said that, I think the times we live in do call out for an advocate to step up to the plate and represent the public interest," Stanak said.
According to the latest campaign finance reports, Stanak has raised $4,200 this campaign season.
Friday, May 24 2013 6:04 PM EDT2013-05-24 22:04:03 GMT
It was a storm that left residents with more damage than they could have ever imagined. "The basement has about 13 inches of water," said Bob Genter of Underhill. And preparing for the aftermath of theMore >>
Flash floods left destruction across the region. And the rain is not over. Heavy downpours left some people trapped in their neighborhoods as emergency crews work to try to clear the roads.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:44 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:44:50 GMT
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend. So far, the impact has mainly been seen in roadMore >>
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:51 AM EDT2013-05-24 13:51:55 GMT
Over the river and throught the woods isn't just the way to grandma's house, its the way a lot of people are having to travel just to make it to their front door. Dormant brooks and sleepy streams turnedMore >>
Strong rains Thursday flooded roads in Essex.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 6:43 PM EDT2013-05-24 22:43:08 GMT
Vermont State Police say the following roads have been closed due to flooding:UNDERHILL: VERMONT ROUTE 15, CILLEYHILL POKER HILL ROAD NORTH UNDERHILL STATION ROAD PAIGE ROAD DAUDLIN ROAD BROWNS TRACE,More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 4:37 PM EDT2013-05-24 20:37:30 GMT
As the cleanup gets underway from Thursday night's flash flooding, the focus shifts now to the broader impacts of rising rivers from around the region. All the rain so far and more to come is running intoMore >>
All the rain is running into larger streams and rivers that are moving rapidly toward flood stage.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:48 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:48:57 GMT
The heavy rains have left a lot of people with flooded basements. We want to remind people of potential dangers before tackling that mess. First, shut off power to all basement appliances. Don't touchMore >>
The heavy rains have left a lot of people with flooded basements. We want to remind people of potential dangers before tackling that mess.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 6:08 PM EDT2013-05-24 22:08:50 GMT
A rainy Vermont City Marathon forecast isn't slowing down runners or organizers. "Well, we're going to make some liquid sunshine out of all of this rain. That's the only choice we've got right now," saidMore >>
The countdown is on to this weekend's Vermont City Marathon and final preps are underway. Those finishing touches are coming in the rain, but organizers say the weather isn't slowing things down.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 4:24 PM EDT2013-05-24 20:24:06 GMT
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex. The parade is held annually on the Saturday morning of the holiday weekend. But after all the rain and flooding damageMore >>
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex.More >>