Paul “The Huntsman” Heintz has been working the phones to impressive effect. He’s come up with a list of people who’d like to succeed the late Sally Fox in the State Senate… and the list, cumulatively, is kind of a wow.
I read Heintz’ piece the way I usually read online listicles: scrolling slowly down the page so the names are revealed one at a time. And every time I saw a name, I thought, “Now there’s a strong candidate. The other ones don’t stand a chance.”
Every time. It’s a real testament to the strength of the Democrats’ talent pool. At a time when the VTGOP is scrambling for warm bodies to occupy ballot slots, the Dems have a lot of really good people just hoping for a chance.
The list (arranged alphabetically) starts with Debbie Ingram, head of Vermont Interfaith Action. She ran a strong race in 2012 and finished seventh in an election for six Senate seats after emerging from a strong primary field. Okay, I thought; that’s hard to beat.
Then you get to Tim Jerman, a state representative since 2004 and vice chair of the state party. Hmm, I thought, hard to beat a veteran lawmaker with connections. But he’s followed by…
Crea Lintilhac, president of the Lintilhac Foundation and the highest-profile liberal benefactor in Vermont. She also sits on a brace of nonprofit boards, so she’s got a substantial web of connections and loyalties to call on.
Good grief, I thought, this is getting ridiculous. And then it got a lot ridiculouser, because the next name is…
Jake Perkinson, chair of the Verment Democratic Party from 2011-13. He oversaw a period where the party cemented its electoral dominance; but even more important, he built a strong back-office machine and a fearsome (by Vermont standards) fundraising operation.
The fifth hopeful is no slouch either: Kesha Ram, a rising star in the Legislature and in state politics. First elected at age 22, still in her mid-20s and serving on the powerful Ways & Means Committee. On any other list, she’d be a standout; given her age and a crowded field, I suspect she’ll have to wait her “turn.”
All in all, that’s just an absurdly powerful list, and yet another indication of how strong the Vermont Democratic Party is. While the Republicans keep recycling losers on the ballot (Jack McMullen, John MacGovern, Randy Brock) and in the office (Jeff Bartley, Darcie “Hack” Johnston), the Democrats have an amazing array of talent. (The Dems’ strength also makes it that much tougher for the Progressives to grow, especially in Chittenden County, the Progs’ home turf.)
Any one of these five people would make a fine Senator, and the Dems are lucky to have such a tough choice on their hands.