There is already almost half a dozen members of the pack in the hunt, by my count, and now one more will try to fit their collar and tags in the clutch to run for Lt. Governor. And now perhaps sniffing an opportunity Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans) is considering it.
The NEK’s Rodgers wants to see if a run for Lt. Gov. makes sense: “I’ve got some folks looking at numbers and figuring out a path forward. If it looks doable and feasible I’ve got to figure out if it fits into my personal life.”
The field as of today – Randy Brock will as of now is the only Republican. Boots Wardinski of Newbury will be running as a Progressive and Dr. Louis Meyers who is new to politics will run as an Independent.
On the Democratic side, current office holders Sen. David Zuckerman P/D, Rep. Kesha Ram D have announced their candidacies. Brandon Riker of Marlboro who has never held elected office is reportedly also running. Earlier former Politico.com editor Garret Graff explored making a run but dropped out. The former Montpelier resident’s plans were disrupted when — to his shock — he discovered that he did not meet eligibility rules, after a ten-year absence from Vermont — a state he claims as his “mental home.”
Maine and New Hampshire are two of five states that find no reason to have an office of Lt. Gov. at all, but here in Vermont people are falling all over themselves to run for the part-time job. The official duties are limited but include being acting governor in the governor’s absence and being President of the Senate, except when exercising the office of Governor. And of course, in the event of the death of a serving governor, the Lt. Gov takes over.
Significant in terms of the Senate, the Lt. Gov. also serves as the third member on the powerful Committee on Committees. The three-member leadership Committee on Committees hand-picks senators to serve as chair-people on standing committees. The chairs in turn influence much of what gets a hearing in the legislative sessions. Currently the C of C’s is made up of alleged Democrats Dick Mazza (Grand Isle) and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell (Windsor) and their BFF, Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott.
Although he may not be well known outside of the Northeast Kingdom, Senator Rodgers previously served in the State House for 8 years. He achieved some notoriety around the state in 2015 when he introduced legislation to designate the beagle the official state dog of Vermont.
In the Senate, his “Beagle bill” was called “a source of amusement if nothing else.” However PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) expressed concern over whether naming a specific breed was “a step backwards” and worried the designation would encourage the growth of “puppy mills.”
Senator Rogers defended the bill and explained how else he intends to spend his time in the Senate:
“the Beagle Bill” that I introduced for a constituent. I assure you that it literally took about two minutes. If you want to talk about a waste of time let’s talk about the new gun control proposal that I am busy trying to stop. […].
In addition to shouldering the burden of naming a state dog and stonewalling gun control, Senator Rodgers sits on the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, as well as being vice chair of the Committee on Institutions. According to the American Conservative Union, Rodgers is one of two highest-rated Democrats on conservative issues. At 43% he is a top conservative dog compared to other Democratic senators, to whom the ACU inaccurately refers as a “coalition of the radical left.”
All the actual and potential candidates a for Lt. Governor stress the agenda-setting capacity of the job. If Rodgers chooses to run he might be the perfect boutique candidate for Democratic beagle fans with a strong conservative bent.
It’s not clear what kind of state dog might be favored by Committee on Committee heads Senators Mazza and Campbell. For now at least, there is a wide array of possible future Lt. Governors seeking to wear the collar.