Attorney general race draws Vt. primary interest
By DAVE GRAM
The Associated Press | August 27,2012
MONTPELIER — A hard-fought contest for the Democratic nomination for attorney general appears to be drawing the most attention as Vermont prepares for its 2012 state primary election.
Longtime incumbent Attorney General Bill Sorrell has drawn a challenge from fellow Democrat TJ Donovan, the Chittenden County state’s attorney.
The election is set for Tuesday, which also is the anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene, and many Vermonters may be preoccupied with observances including concerts, art exhibits and other events.
Both Sorrell and Donovan said Friday they would work hard throughout the weekend to get their backers excited about getting to the polls.
“If my supporters come out and vote I’m going to win this thing, no question,” Sorrell said.
He said he was running on a 15-year record of environmental and consumer protection, and effective criminal justice enforcement.
Donovan pointed to recent poll results showing a third of voters were undecided.
“I’ve just got to make the closing argument here,” Donovan said. The high number of voters undecided “says to me people are ready for a change.”
He has criticized Sorrell on several fronts, including a charge that the incumbent hasn’t done a good enough job working with the Legislature to pass strong laws that will hold up in court.
The Republican primary ballot features a contest between John McGovern and Brooke Paige for the nomination to take on incumbent Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., who is heavily favored to win another term.
Meanwhile, there’s a write-in campaign being organized in the Progressive primary for governor. The party had nominated longtime Progressive stalwart Martha Abbott, but activists opposed to mountaintop wind power projects and other environmental policies backed by incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin are spearheading a campaign to write in the name of Annette Smith, the head of the group Vermonters for a Clean Environment.
Smith said last week that she was not seeking the nomination but understood why she was being pushed to run. She said there was widespread frustration among activists with Shumlin’s support for large-scale wind power development, the recent merger of Vermont’s two largest utilities and other issues.
“I would describe it as the people giving voice to how they feel, and the people have a right to do that,” said Smith, a Danby resident.
“But my role? I’m doing my work,” she said, referring to raising awareness on issues like large-scale wind power and chloramine in public water supplies.
Asked about the chance she might peel general election votes from Shumlin and that Republican state Sen. Randy Brock might be elected as a result, Smith said, “Ask me that on Wednesday,” the day after the primary.
“Right now I’m not participating in this dialogue or discussion,” she said.
Democrats in Vermont’s most populous region will choose six nominees from among nine candidates running under the party’s label for seats in the six-member Chittenden County delegation in the state Senate. Three Republicans are vying for two open Senate seats from Franklin County.