Terri Hallenbeck’s working a shift on New Year’s Eve…
Talk had been that Sen. Claire Ayer, an Addison County Democrat, would be the new majority leader in the Senate this coming year. Not so, Ayer said Monday. She’s changed her mind, leaving questions about who will end up holding that key post.
Ayer was the heir apparent to Bill Carris, who resigned from the Senate due to health problems. But in order to be an effective majority leader, she would have relinquished her position as chair of the Health and Welfare Committee. And she decided that, with health care reform pending, she’d rather stay on at the committee. Or maybe she decided she’d rather not clean up John Campbell’s messes, I dunno.
The majority leader is a key figure in making sure the Senate runs smoothly, which it has not done for the last two years. Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor, won the Democratic majority’s support for retaining that top Senate job next year, but only with the promise that things would run better. The even-tempered, experienced Ayer would have been a good candidate to do that. Who will fill the role instead appears unclear.
Hallenbeck’s blogpost ends with the following, intriguing, almost bewildering line:
Sen. Philip Baruth, D-Chittenden, a second-term senator, has been mentioned as a possibility
Phil Baruth??? Pardon me while I choke on my Irish coffee. (Hey, it’s New Year’s.)
This would be the same Phil Baruth who was a notable pain in John Campbell’s ass during the 2012 session. At least that’s how Campbell seemed to see things; here’s a choice quote from the Valley News last spring, as referenced in this here blog:
“I know there was some frustration on the part of some of the freshmen in thinking the power was isolated with the committee chairs, but what I was trying to explain to them is there is a thing called seniority and experience, and just as in anything, you have to put in your time and learn the ins and outs of the institution before you want to run the thing.”
(“Some of the freshmen” was widely understood to mean Baruth, Joe Benning, and Peter Galbraith.)
This would also be the same Phil Baruth who surprisingly backed Campbell when he was challenged for the President Pro Temship by Ann Cummings — and even formally nominated Campbell.
Deal, anyone? Bueller?
But hey, it’s a holiday, so let’s put aside our cynicism and look at the bright side: if Baruth really is the choice, that’ll be a concrete sign that things are changing in the Senate, and Campbell is serious about taking a different approach to his leadership.