Zuckerman considering run for governor

Published: Jan. 7, 2020 at 5:55 PM EST
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Vermont Lt. Governor Dave Zuckerman could be running for the state's top political office. The Hinesburg organic farmer acknowledged rumors that he's considering the race but that he's waiting to make an announcement about his political future until next week.

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: Are you running for governor?

Lt. Gov. Dave Zuckerman: Well, I have been seriously considering it.

That was as close as Lt. Gov. Zuckerman would come to addressing reports that he is seeking the state's top political office. He deferred any announcement, saying this week is about the Legislature. "This rumor got flying, but I'll be talking about it next week," he said.

If the Progressive/Democrat throws his hat in the ring to unseat Republican Phil Scott, he will likely be the last major player to do so, according to longtime political analyst Chris Graff.

"It's actually late in the political season if you want to mount a credible challenge to an incumbent governor,"Graff said.

The Democratic field already has one major challenger -- former education secretary Rebecca Holcombe. And there's been rumors that Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan is also considering a run. Donovan told us Tuesday he hasn't made a decision yet. But Graff says if Zuckerman joins the field, it's unlikely any other major players will.

"I think they probably know already that they've decided David Zuckerman's year is this year," Graff said.

While Governor Phil Scott has not formally announced his bid for another term, Graff says he almost certainly will. "Any challenger starts with a big uphill," he said. "It is a really tough battle to win against an incumbent in Vermont. It hasn't happened in 50 years."

Reporter Cat Viglienzoni: Do you think Governor Scott is a tough candidate to beat?

Lt. Gov. Dave Zuckerman: There's no doubt. The common thought would be that the incumbent governor hasn't been beat in 50-odd years. And I think whether it's Rebecca Holcombe, T.J. Donovan, or myself, or someone else, it'll be an uphill discussion for sure.

Zuckerman, if he chooses to run, is taking a risk. If he doesn't unseat Governor Scott, he'll lose the Lt. Governor spot as well. Graff says it's likely that Zuckerman is counting on a wave of national sentiment against President Trump to bring out more Democratic voters. He says while that makes sense on paper, history hasn't shown that to happen, because Vermont voters tend to separate national and local politics.

Zuckerman says whichever candidate gets the nomination, they will need to focus on issues that matter to Vermonters if they want to win.

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