Garrett Graff: You can’t get there from here

Garrett Graff , a former editor from The Washingtonian and Politico magazine, has run headfirst into residency requirements and has decided not to run for Lt. Governor. Candidates for Lt Gov. are required to live in Vermont for four years before running for the office.

In November the 34 year-old left his job with Politico Magazine in Washington DC and made it known he was moving back to Vermont and planned to explore a run for Lt. Governor. graffgaff

Graff grew-up in Montpelier; his father was for many years the AP’s Vermont bureau chief covering the statehouse and currently is media spokesman for National Life.


Graff-the-younger seemed to be taken by surprise when he found himself at odds with residency eligibility laws. He had lived outside the state for 10years, but kept a state drivers license,was still registered to vote and claims Vermont remained his “mental home”.

He complains that the residency rule “[…] is going to discourage precisely the types of people that we would want to be involved in state government,” Shouldn’t residency, he wonders, be measured by a different mix of “physical presence” and “intent to return” — specifically those former residents who left the state for academic or professional enrichment and wish to return. Lucky for Graff  unabashed enlightened self interest isn’t frowned on too much, because the type of people he says Vermont should encourage for state government also happen to be mostly …well,  mostly him.

In a commentary, Graff expresses support for certain residency requirements: “to ensure that someone running for office has ties to and knowledge of the state of Vermont.” Well, he might have wisely stopped there (note to Garrett: as of 2009 almost 50% of Vermont’s population was born outside the state)…but he adds: “I don’t want some flatlander like Jack McMullen arriving to buy a Senate seat any more than the next Vermonter.” But keep out the riffraff and millionaire flatlanders?

Poor Jack McMullen will forever remain the classic flatlander punching bag (see Fred Tuttle). You know, for all his many faults and the credible carpetbagging charges, he did actually have knowledge of the the state’s eligibility requirements before running for office.

Graff defines his own eligibility…

by pedigree: “But I am no flatlander and have the credentials to prove it. Born at Central Vermont Hospital and reared in Montpelier, I am a product of the city’s great public schools — and our family ties go back centuries. One of my ancestors was even a Green Mountain Boy at Fort Ticonderoga with Ethan Allen.”

Perhaps the residency requirements do need refining. However, I have to wonder, can Graff be totally unaware of how his clamoring “I am no flatlander” might be off putting to other new Vermonters… you know: some residents outside Montpelier and Washington DC. Even flatlanders are allowed the vote now- if they meet residency requirements.

In his legendary primary race against Fred Tuttle, Jack McMullen demonstrated  just how tone deaf to statewide political sensibilities a person can be. And young Graff,back after ten years, found a shortcut to display his own tone deafness to Vermont voters -he did it without entering a race at all.

5 thoughts on “Garrett Graff: You can’t get there from here

  1. Reminds me of a local story. Some years back, it was discovered that the two sons of a Town Selectman had been voting for their dad every time even though they both lived out of state and never had actually lived in that town. Dad won by a single vote one year.

    As I recall, the election board was looking into whether voter fraud was involved, but I doubt that they ever did anything about it. Few “violations” in Vermont that involve the political class seem to actually be linked to penalties.

  2. This took 1st prize in Blind Ambition category:
    “Three weeks ago Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, introduced a bill in the Senate that would rewrite the rules of “residency” that determine whether candidates are eligible to run for the highest public offices in Vermont.

    *The bill might as well have my name on it.*

    If I had not returned home to Vermont last fall and considered a run for lieutenant governor in 2016, the bill would never have been proposed. For many reasons, however, what the bill actually argues represents bad public policy.”

    That would be something you would *not* want name on-zheesh. Made quite an impression but not a positive one. Now has given voters many reasons not to vote for him. Rather stunned by silly comments from apologists using ridiculously specious arguments to stretch this folly.

    Looks like quite a few absent when the brains were passed out-what a bunch of nuts.

  3. I would guess that the real state he resided in for 10 years would also be very interested to know that he was a resident there. Were taxes paid? Did he get his car registration in that state? Most places have a requirement that the drivers license be issued from the place you spend most of your time.

    1. Good point. What also becomes visible is inability or unwillingness to play by the rules. VT has too many like this already, we need to get rid of the ones we have not import more.

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