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Vermont Senate power struggle

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Sen. John Campbell Sen. John Campbell
Sen. Ann Cummings Sen. Ann Cummings
MONTPELIER, Vt. -

A power struggle at the Vermont Statehouse: Vermont senators are selecting a leader.

Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell asked his colleagues for another shot. But he faced a challenge for the first time.

Unlike the Senate we grew to understand and many senators grew frustrated with last session, Tuesday these Democrats worked together quickly and efficiently to select a leader.

Every two years the majority party in the Senate meets before the legislative session to select a candidate as the president pro tempore of the Senate. This leadership position helps manage and dictate priorities for the Senate.

Sen. Ann Cummings was determined to send a message of disapproval Tuesday. She told her colleagues that during her 16 years as a senator this was the first time she didn't feel proud to be a Vermont senator.

"Like when you got to the floor they would take a half an hour before deciding what bill to take up. That means people had to shut down committees early and time is of the essence, especially toward the end of session," said Cummings, D-Washington County.

"The important aspect of this though is where you go from there, do you learn from perceptions of some problems in your organization," said Campbell, D-Windsor County.

While Campbell was selected as president pro tem again by the Democrats, this race is not yet over with. Sen. Diane Snelling, a Republican, plans to run against Campbell formally in January when the 2013 session starts. She, too, is frustrated with dysfunction and wants to restore process to the Senate.

Now, we've heard murmurs that if senators really want to send a message, they'll choose Snelling over Campbell. Though with 23 Democrats and seven Republicans it's unlikely that will happen.

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