Is anyone running for Vermont governor?

Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 5:41 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - While races for Congress and statewide offices are filling up in Vermont, one race remains quiet: governor.

The legislative session ends in two weeks and candidates are getting ready to hit the campaign trail this summer, but so far, not a single candidate has officially announced a bid for governor.

Statewide major party candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, House, Senate and others have one month to gather enough signatures on campaign petitions to get on the August primary ballot.

And there are also new changes from the once-in-a-decade reapportionment process.

“We have to make sure 500,000 voters are in the correct voting district, and in some cases, that has changed,” said Jim Condos, D-Vt. Secretary of State.

Parties are gearing up, too.

Democrats who control both chambers of the Statehouse are bringing on a new campaign director.

Republicans say they will focus on growing their benches in the House and Senate, aimed at building up enough votes to sustain vetoes from Gov. Phil Scott.

“We only need four more in the Senate to be able to give the governor support to put the brakes on some of the progressive policies that are coming from Montpelier,” Vermont GOP Chair Paul Dame said.

But Scott has not announced whether he will seek reelection. He says he is waiting until the end of the session.

A new University of New Hampshire poll sheds light on how voters are feeling: 56% of respondents think Scott should definitely or probably run again.

While no Democrats have announced, 38% of Vermonters polled think favorably of Attorney General T.J. Donovan, 14% for Vt. House Speaker Jill Krowinski and 11% for policy advocate Brenda Siegel.

“It’s worth noting that Phil Scott is a formidable opponent. He has high favorability ratings, so it could be a challenge to take him on,” said Bert Johnson, a political scientist at Middlebury College.

The Democratic Party maintains control of the House and the Senate and occupies many statewide offices, except for governor.

So far, no Democrats have announced a bid, though several are exploring runs.

“It’s been interesting, that’s where I’ll leave it,” Vermont Democratic Party Chair Anne Lezak said.

Party leaders say an announcement is coming soon.

“I think that we will have a governor candidate announcing soon, and clearly that will be a major focus of our efforts,” Lezak said.

In the coming weeks, parties are also building their platforms and identifying key issues. With the legislative session wrapping up and with several vetoes looming, experts say those disagreements could define campaigns in the months ahead.

“That would be something to watch, especially if Scott vetoes the budget for example and there has to be a weekslong fight over that again,” Johnson said.

Town clerks will also send out a postcard reminding people to request absentee ballots if they choose. Those ballots will be mailed by mid-June so voters can send them back or return them in person in time for the August 9 primaries.

That UNH poll also gives us insight into Vermont’s Congressional race.

In the Senate race, Democrat Peter Welch maintains a lead over Republican Christina Nolan 62%-27%.

In the House race, Sen. Becca Balint is leading over other Democratic candidates-- 28% said they plan to vote for Balint, 21% plan to vote for Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and 19% for Sen, Kesha Ram Hinsdale.

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