Sorrell to run for ninth term in 2014
By Peter Hirschfeld
Vermont Press Bureau | October 19,2013
AP FILE PHOTO
Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, right, and his challenger in the Democratic Party primary, T. Donovan, take part in a debate last year. Sorrell said this week he will run for a ninth term in 2014. Donovan, the Chittenden County state’s attorney, hasn’t said if he will run against Sorrell for the attorney general’s post next year.
MONTPELIER — One of the bigger questions surrounding the 2014 campaign season was answered this week when Attorney General William Sorrell announced quietly that he’ll be running for a ninth term next year.
In an interview on WDEV’s The Mark Johnson Show, Sorrell, who narrowly fended off a challenge in the Democratic primary last year, said Thursday he’s not ready to depart the post he’s held since being appointed to the seat in 1997 by then-Gov. Howard Dean.
“I’m fully engaged in any number of issues, both in the state and out of the state that impact Vermonters,” Sorrell told Johnson. “So my intention is to run, and if voters want another two years of me for attorney general, I’m happy to serve.”
The announcement puts into place one key piece of the 2014 electoral puzzle. But whether voters will see a rematch in the Democratic primary between Sorrell and Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan remains to be seen.
Donovan, who lost his first bid for statewide office by 700 votes, said he wouldn’t have any comment Thursday about Sorrell’s announcement. Donovan has been mum since his defeat about his future electoral prospects. But Eric Davis, professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College, says the calculus of running will be different for Donovan this time around.
Last year, Davis says, Donovan had the benefit of mounting a bid for statewide office without imperiling his current post. Since his term as state’s attorney expires next year, however, he wouldn’t enjoy the same job security if he chose to run in 2014.
Davis says a second consecutive loss by Donovan could also tarnish the brand the young Democrat worked so hard to cultivate last year. Though he lost the race, Donovan emerged from the loss as one party’s rising stars.
Going up against a veteran incumbent in his own party and losing, again, Davis said, might cost him some of that cachet.
“Many people come back from one statewide loss, but it’s very hard to come back from two,” Davis said.
Sorrell said in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon that if he does face a serious challenge, from Donovan or anyone else, he’ll be far better prepared for it now than he was last year. Sorrell admitted last year that in his 15 years in office, he’d never really had to campaign terribly hard to win. While he emerged from the campaign weary, he said the experience left him battle-tested and ready for more.
Sorrell said he has not told Donovan that he plans to run again.
“I’m much wiser now about what might be ahead,” Sorrell said. “And I’ll certainly be a much stronger candidate next year than I was a year ago.”