Vermont Primary Profile: David Zuckerman

By  | 

HINESBURG, Vt. (WCAX) We begin our Campaign 2020 coverage with current Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman. The long-time Progressive is running as a Democrat for governor.

Zuckerman is 48 and has been involved in Vermont politics for more than 20 years.

When he's not in Montpelier, he spends his days planting vegetables on his farm in Hinesburg with his wife, Rachel, and his daughter.

Our Calvin Cutler sat down with Zuckerman to learn more about his background and his vision for the state.

Several hundred feet north of the line separating Chittenden and Addison counties lies Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg.

There, Zuckerman, a longtime Vermont farmer, politician and now candidate for governor tends to his animals and crops.

Zuckerman says his draw to public service dates back to when he left his home state of Massachusetts in the late 1980s for UVM.

"Fell in love with the people, the culture, agriculture and the community," he said.

On campus, he was involved with social justice groups but didn't get involved in politics until he met then-Congressman Bernie Sanders.

"He said exactly what he believed straight up on his sleeve, didn't hide anything, didn't say what people wanted to hear and that you could be elected saying what you believe and you can go fight for what you believe in," Zuckerman said.

Zuckerman says Sanders' values have stuck with him through his career in Vermont politics, serving six terms in the House and two in the Senate before being elected to the lieutenant governor's office in 2016.

Zuckerman says he's focused on raising the minimum wage, increasing diversity in Montpelier, expanding access to health care and tackling climate change.

"I think there's real opportunities with that to merge the rural economy with the future climate economy. Whether that's investing in broadband or village center development particularly, so Vermonters can afford to be here," Zuckerman said.

In a crowded Democratic primary field where many candidates are seeking coverage, Zuckerman enjoys name recognition. He says he's connected with Vermonters from across the state for more than 20 years where other candidates haven't.

But if he wins the primary, he'll be up against Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who has received high marks for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zuckerman applauds the governor's efforts but says the governor dropped the ball when dealing with the influx of Vermonters filing for unemployment.

"It took weeks before they really did anything substantial to change anything and they needed to make faster adjustments there," Zuckerman said.

But still, Zuckerman and other candidates face an uphill battle as it has been over half a century since an incumbent governor lost. Add to that Scott's popularity in Vermont.

And as the Democratic primary approaches, Zuckerman says he's trying to show Vermont he's the best candidate for the job.

"Are we actually against each other especially in a primary in the same party or are we all trying to show what we stand for and why we're the strongest candidate," he said.

Zuckerman faces former education secretary Rebecca Holcombe, Bennington lawyer Pat Winburn and Ralph Corbo in the Democratic primary.