An editorial in the Burlington Free Press was published a week ago analyzing how the Progressive Party’s entry into the statewide races in 2010 changes the dynamic.
Progressive Martha Abbott’s decision to run for governor alters the terrain for the major party candidates already in the race just as they gear up for a summer of serious campaigning. That’s especially true for the five Democrats, Susan Bartlett, Matt Dunne, Deb Markowitz, Doug Racine and Peter Shumlin. Republican Brian Dubie faces no primary opponent so far.
Hemmed in by Dubie on the right and Abbott on the left, the Democratic candidates have until the Aug. 24 primary to distinguish themselves from the field. That’s best done by clear statements on policy laid out in vigorous and open debates — a different animal from reading position papers at candidate forums or pretending that you’ve already won the nomination.
Vermont’s campaign calculus gets complicated with entry of a third candidate in the general election who could siphon off enough votes to affect the outcome.
The editorial cites Anthony Pollina, who ran for Governor of Vermont in 2008, as an example of how well Progressive Party candidates can affect statewide races.