Is there anything to talk about besides Peter Shumlin's bombshell tonight?
For weeks all anybody's said to me about him, in more or less favorable terms, is that he would never be able to stomach going out a loser, so he's got to run again to prove that he can make the comeback and go out on top.
So much for that. If you hang around long enough you should know that nothing's inevitable, no matter how smart you think you are.
One thing we do know, though, is that the 2016 campaign starts now. All the could-bes and should-bes who think they have to take their shot are no longer in a position to say that they'll wait until after the 2016 legislative session ends to make their decision, which is exactly what Shap Smith said just three days ago on You Can Quote Me. Anyone who waits that long will be too late.
The governor's decision has changed the landscape completely, and has vastly strengthened the position of the Vermont Democrats. Just think about it: the conventional wisdom has been that Phil Scott is ready to run, and after some serious injuries this year, many of them self-inflicted, Shumlin was looking like an extremely vulnerable incumbent. Now, with Shumlin stepping aside and 2016 looking like a strong year for Democrats in Vermont–especially if Bernie is the candidate–the path to victory for any Republican is very much less clear than it was. In 2014 the Republicans almost disproved that time-honored truism that you can't beat somebody with nobody, but 2016 is not looking like a year they can pull it off again. In addition, a Shumlin candidacy was going to guarantee a Progressive candidate for governor next year, which would be a big boost for the R's, but now we may not see that.
So who are the candidates and what are the odds?
Shap Smith. Oh yeah, he's in. I say 80% chance and he announces in 2015. On the other hand, he has young kids and I can't remember the last time someone made the jump directly from the Legislature to governor, but he is the only person under the Dome with the visibility to have a chance to pull it off.
Deb Markowitz. She's smart, she's energetic, and she hasn't been tagged with any administrative fuckups in her time at ANR. She'sthe only one of Shumlin's rivals who has stayed in the job he appointed her to throughout his governorship. Also, she'll be in the job market in a year and a half no matter what happens. 60%
Matt Dunne. Impressed a lot of people last time around. Very smart and still has a loyal fan base. 50%.
Doug Racine. I was very impressed with his commitment to fighting poverty when he ran last time. Still, there were problems at AHS when he was there, and they didn't all come from conservative pressures from the Fifth Floor. 40%, maybe 30%.
Peter Welch. I see from John Walters that he's being mentioned, but I just don't see it. He's really impressed people with his effectiveness but he's only been in Congress for five terms, which isn't long enough to really accomplish anything. 5%, just because I don't want to say zero,
The other statewides: Beth Pearce, Doug Hoffer, Jim Condos. Sure, they'll be mentioned, but they're all doing the jobs they want to do with no foreseeable effective challenge, so they can keep doing those jobs as long as they want. They're staying put.
Long shots? You never know who could possibly emerge. There's talk about Sue Minter, who ran the Irene recovery and then took over at Transportation. Sue's great, although she doesn't have tremendous statewide visibility. It might make more sense for her to wait for Scott's announcement and then annouce for Lite Gov.
What about you? Anyone you want to nominate? Anyone mentioned in this diary automatically gets front-paged if you're ready to announce.