Vt. Democrats, Progressives working together - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Democrats, Progressives working together

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Vermont Democrats celebrated a near sweeping victory down the ticket Tuesday night. If you ask political analyst, Eric Davis, some of those victories are owed to President Barack Obama. Davis says Vermonters tend to vote Democratic down the ticket.

"Doug Hoffer and Beth Pearce both of whom won their elections in part because they had the 'D' next to their names," Davis said.

Davis also says that means more fusion candidates have a chance, like Doug Hoffer, who has been a Progressive in the past and this time ran as Progressive and a Democrat.

"There's less and less differences between Vermont Progressives and Democrats," said Jake Perkinson, chair of the Vermont Democratic Party.

Perkinson says Democrats and Progressives have learned to work together in recent years instead of opposing one another, especially because they agree on so many issues. For example, the Progressives chose to run their party chair, Martha Abbott, as a gubernatorial candidate in the primary race so she could turn down the nomination. They didn't want a strong Progressive to take votes away from Democrat Peter Shumlin. Davis recalls a time when Progressives were seen as "spoilers" -- hurting Democrats politically, like when Anthony Pollina ran against Peter Shumlin in 2002 in the race for lieutenant governor.

"A lot of Democrats felt that if Pollina hadn't been on the ballot Shumlin would have won," Davis said.

"I would venture to say the progressive point of view is becoming the majority point of view in Vermont," Anthony Pollina said.

Pollina says it's ideas like shutting down Vermont Yankee and moving toward single-payer health care that Democrats are now getting on board with-- a reason they support Gov. Peter Shumlin.

"The Progressive Party has actually shifted the political landscape in a way that has made these issues the majority issues," Pollina said.

Neither Progressives nor Democrats dispute the notion that the parties may eventually absorb one another. Davis says it's good for both parties but could be bad news for Republicans.

"I think the Republicans face far more serious problems in terms of changing demography in the state the changing positions of the national Republican Party pose for the Vermont Republican Party," Davis said.

Vermont Republican Party Chair Jack Lindley says the collaboration of Democrats and Progressives isn't what hurt Republicans. He says it simply comes down to having a stronger ground game and that he'll admit the Democrats won this round.

Cassandra Gekas is a fusion candidate, but is the only Democrat to have lost a statewide race. She had little name recognition before this race started, campaigned very little and still was able to garner 40 percent of the vote, more than Republican Randy Brock did. Eric Davis would say the reason she got such a large percentage of the vote was due to that D next to her name on the ballot.

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