So what now?

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. 


18 thoughts on “So what now?

  1. I agree with you that Doug Hoffer and Jim Condos are so valuable and committed to their current positions that I kind of hope they just stay put…which is not to say that either wouldn’t make a great governor.

    Doug Racine has been so badly misused that it is difficult to believe he’d want more exposure to that kind of punishment.

    Matt Dunne is very talented, but did not bother to remain visible since his last run.  I suspect he’s a little short on commitment.

    Why ever would Peter Welch want to leave DC before he has really had the opportunity to reach his stride?

    Deb Markowitz rolled up her sleeves at ANR and got right to work.  Short of Health and Human Services (which was pretty much booby-trapped to take down anyone who accepted the helm) ANR has to be the toughest “vehicle” to drive through the hoops of government.  There’s been little support from the Governor for regulatory work.

    There are some very capable Progs out there, too; but I think it’s time to elect a female governor in Vermont…and Deb looks like a winner to me.

  2. I won’t read any true significance into this, aside from a screwup by someone in the graphics department, but it is odd:

    I got the email from Shumlin’s campaign committee saying he isn’t going to run. My email program withholds the remote graphics, so Shumlin’s handwritten “Peter” signature image showed up as text. The text was “WelchSignature.”

    I allowed the graphics to load and the signature image showed up. I have no idea what Shumlin’s handwriting looks like but the image still mouseovered “WelchSignature.”

    An omen?

  3. But I’d love to see a Prog-Dem candidate like Tim Ashe, Anthony Pollina, or David Zuckerman as well.

  4. Don’t think she has any steam remaining.  She has been too far under the radar and was not that great a candidate last time.   She loses to Mr. Scott big time. 0.0

    Racine recently said he was not out of the game.  Expect him back.  Too bad Shumlin set Doug up for holding the bag when he gave all the competition Jobs to keep them under his thumb.   Many still think he was the better candidate.

    Peter W,  Representative for life if he wants…  Aside from Smith who has been thrown out of that in our lifetime?  People can get fickle with the Governor and it is not a lifetime position.  No run. 0.0

    Shap….  IN    decent chance against Scott.  95

    Shumlin unfortunately IS already going out a loser.  Lost the faith of the people, lost the influence over the legislature, lost the will to stick his neck out again and get slapped into Saturday.   He probably realizes his last election performance effectively ended his chance of being the next Leahy or Peter2 if he moves up.   No place to go but back to PutPut land.

    None of the other Constitutional officers are unhappy (Beth or Jim) or qualified/electable (JIM) so nothing happening there.

    Listman or a Prog in the race could change damn near anything/everything.

    Let the games begin.  


  5. And I think it makes more sense for him politically than some others seem to.

    Yes, he can stay in DC with a safe seat and a junior spot in leadership. And if that’s what he wants, he should stick with it. He’s a damn good Representative and I don’t begrudge him continuing in that role, slowly working his way up the ladder and toiling away on issues that matter to him.

    But in the toxic environment of DC, even Peter’s attempts at some bipartisan work have got to be frustrating beyond belief.  Unfortunately the chances of Democrats retaking the majority anytime in the near future seem remote – so he’s looking at the next few cycles stuck in the minority.  

    If he’d had the luck to go to DC earlier in his career, he’d potentially be on track to eventually become Speaker, Majority Leader, Whip or an influential committee chair.  But Peter is 68, and none of those look like an opportunity for the near/mid future – by the times Democrats retake the majority (probably not going to happen until 2022 – after next redistricting cycle – at the earliest), the Party probably won’t be looking for a 75 year old white guy from an electorally insignificant state to take on a major leadership role.

    Given that Leahy is going to run for re-election next year, and that Bernie is unlikely to retire in 2018, there isn’t likely to be a Senate seat open until 2022 — and at that point, it probably wouldn’t make sense to elect a 75 year old freshman Senator to serve one (or two at most) terms.

    On the other hand, if Peter came back to VT he could probably spend 6-8 years as Governor and be able to have a much greater impact (in a much smaller pond) in enacting his vision.  He was an excellent Senate President, and he knows how to get things done in state Government. He’s progressive but understands when/how to compromise, and is determined to make government work. He’d be a welcome change from the last 5 years of Shumlin’s relentless self-promotion, smugness and undermining the progressive agenda.

    He’d also be able to be back home in Vermont, spending more time with family and enjoyed a much less toxic environment than DC.

    He would be an overwhelming favorite if he runs, potentially scaring off much of the significant opposition in any party.

    It would also open up one hell of a primary race for the open House seat — one that might finally allow Vermont to send a woman to DC (something we’ve never done). It would be a great opportunity to elect a younger Congressperson (given our quite elderly current Senate/House delegation) that would be no small thing – and the winner of the race would have a great opportunity to eventually become a US Senator and serve a long long time there.

    I don’t know if Peter Welch wants to do this, but at the moment he’s definitely my first choice for this.

  6. God, I just hope we can beat Scott.  I’ve heard people on the streets already figuring we will have a GOP Governor in the next cycle.  I wonder how deep Scott’s ties to ALEC are now.  

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