Friday, September 11, 2020

Race of the Day- Vermont Governor

Vermont Governor

53 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Status: Likely Republican

There is a lot to think about when one realizes that the state that overwhelmingly supports its Senator Bernie Sanders also has a popular Republican Governor. How is that even possible in these polarized times? Well, for one thing, state elections often have different dynamics than federal elections and the issues involved in those. Also, there are different kinds of Republicans. Not long ago, Phil Scott was considered a conservative even by Vermont GOP standards. Now, he is perhaps the highest ranking official on any Republican ballot this year to say he will not vote for Donald Trump. At this point, the former champion stock car racer has said he is "considering" a vote for Joe Biden. If he truly felt threatened in this race, he might have already made it official, but that does not seem to be the situation in the Green Mountain State.

There are some quirks to Vermont politics. Like it's neighbor New Hampshire, it is one of two states to elect Governors (and other statewide officials) to mere two-year terms. Scott became Governor in 2016 and is now seeking his third term. Before that, he was elected and then reelected every two years since 2010 as Lt. Governor. Clearly, he has been quite successful statewide in Vermont, despite the party label in this very liberal state. I believe there is also still a law in the state which holds that any Gubernatorial contest in which somebody does not win a majority of the vote then has to be selected by the state legislature. This has happened a couple of times in recent history, when a Democrat won a plurality and then the Democrat legislature had to make it official. That is unlikely to be the case this cycle, although in theory that would be bad news for Scott. Nonetheless, there is a thought that the legislature would feel obligated to always select the popular vote winner. Maybe they should just get rid of the law then? Perhaps they already did without me knowing about it.

Scott is favored to win despite the fact that he not even running an active campaign. While he wants people to vote for him, he has said he is so focused on handling the Covid-19 problem in the state that he is not fundraising or employing a staff, let alone be out campaigning. In August, he took 73 percent of the GOP vote against four opponents. His main opponent, a pastor, who finished some 51 points behind ran as a "rural populist" and said he had been a supporter of Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders. I imagine people on the right voted for this candidate as a protest against Scott for being a "RINO."

Due to the fact that Vermont is Vermont, I cannot call this race "safe" for any Republican, despite the history of popular moderate GOP Governors and the most recent Democrat to hold the office leaving amid some unpopularity. Democrats typically win everything else there and they have a loose affiliation with the even more left-wing Progressive Party. The two parties need to consolidate when the latter is not running a mere gadfly in order to win statewide as a matter of common sense. (This is completely distinct from Bernie Sanders running as an Independent and technically rejecting the nominations given to him by Vermont Democrats for his Senate runs.)

On the day that Scott won the Governorship in 2016, his old job as Lt. Governor went to a candidate who mainly identified with the Progressives, but also ran under the Democrat banner, while most other statewide candidates were officially Democrats. Now, four years later, the two men are running against each other for Governor, as David Zuckerman is the candidate of both Progressives and Democrats. The pony-tailed Lt. Governor and former farmer certainly looks the part of a Vermont leftist. There was a complicated and confusing matter regarding the Progressive Party primary and how it only allowed write-ins, but the most important thing is that Zuckerman won a four way Democrat primary with 51 percent, having received the endorsements of Ben and Jerry and...Bernie. Finishing 11 points behind was Rebecca Holcombe, a former state Education Secretary.

This margin of victory for Zuckerman was closer perhaps than many expected. An important factor as to why might be that the Lt. Governor is sort of an anti-vaxxer. This was used by his opponent against him in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic. For his part, Zuckerman has denied being opposed to vaccinations but has expressed concerns about them and has supported loopholes for parents to keep their kids from being vaccinated

Right now, polls are showing that Scott should easily win the general election. I think that is very likely to happen, but again, Vermont is Vermont, and people will be turning out to vote against Donald Trump and everyone who shares a party label with him, even as Scott, quite a different style Republican, has publicly rejected Trump and supported initial efforts to impeach him.

The kind of socialism advocated by Zuckerman continues to grow in popularity, especially in a place like Vermont, but for now, the voters will decide that when it comes to state government, they appreciate the moderate approach and competence of the current Republican Governor.

Governor races predicted thus far: 
2 D (2 Likely)
7 R (2 Safe, 3 Likely, 2 Lean)

Total with predictions thus far:

22 Democrats (20 holdovers, 2 Likely)
26 Republicans (19 holdovers, 2 Safe, 3 Likely, 2 Lean)


Post a Comment

<< Home