MONTPELIER — Chittenden County Sen. David Zuckerman will enter the race for lieutenant governor and seek the Democratic Party’s nomination.
“I am planning to enter the race,” the Progressive-Democrat told the Vermont Press Bureau Tuesday.
Zuckerman, 44, has served several terms in the Vermont Legislature as both a Progressive and a Democrat. However, Zuckerman said he will enter the Democratic Primary and seek the Progressive nomination through a write-in campaign. State law does not allow a candidate to formally enter the primary of more than one major party.
“Politically, I’ll do the same as what I’ve done for the Senate. I plan to run in the Democratic Primary, and when I win that, run as a Progressive-Democrat in the general,” he said.
The Hinesburg farmer will face Burlington Rep. Kesha Ram and Marlboro businessman Brandon Riker in the Democratic primary. He could also face former Politico magazine editor Garrett Graff who plans to return to Vermont and seek the office. There are questions about Graff’s eligibility to seek the office under the Vermont Constitution, however.
Republican Randy Brock has also declared his candidacy, as well as Louis Meyers, a doctor who is running as an independent.
“I bring the experience I have and the business experience as well as the political experience I have. There will probably be more people entering the race. I have no qualms with entering a healthy primary,” Zuckerman said. “I do think I am the strongest candidate to go up against Randy Brock. We’ll see what voters decide.”
Should he lose the Democratic primary, Zuckerman said it would be “extremely unlikely” that he would run in the general election under just the Progressive banner.
“I am reaching out to Democrats to say we want to have a healthy primary and discussion around the issues,” he said. “It I lose that it would appear other folks’ issues were stronger.”
Zuckerman was elected to the House in 1996 and served in that chamber until 2010. In 2012 he ran for the Senate, and now serves as vice chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a member of the Senate Education Committee.
“Certainly, I draw on my experience as a legislator for 17 years, a farmer and from my experience as a family person with a child,” he said.
A formal campaign kick-off event will not be held until next month at the earliest, according to Zuckerman. His campaign could be postponed until early next year if he decides to seek public financing, but that looks to be an unlikely scenario, Zuckerman said.
Seeking public financing would put the campaign at a disadvantage, according to Zuckerman. Under state law, candidates seeking public financing cannot begin raising money or campaigning until Feb. 15. There is “a real question of being restrained from being able to campaign until February while others are campaigning and raising money,” he said.
And, Zuckerman said the state’s public financing system is in question after Attorney General Bill Sorrell found 2014 Progressive lieutenant governor candidate Dean Corren violated the law. A court case is pending concerning Sorrell’s allegation.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty around public financing with Attorney General Sorrell’s attack on it,” Zuckerman said. “I’d like to (seek public financing), but the campaign has already started for a lot of folks. I’ll have more on that in a couple of days.”
The law prohibits candidates from formally announcing their candidacy until Feb. 15 if they intend to seek public financing, so should Zuckerman launch his campaign he would not be allowed to use public funds.
Zuckerman said his campaign will focus on “the rural economy and continuing to build the rural economy.” He also said the issues of climate change and energy “are going to continue to be paramount.” Those issues will be linked to economic activity, he said.
Meanwhile, former Chittenden County Democratic Party Chairman David Scherr announced Tuesday on Facebook that he will run for the Senate seat being vacated by Zuckerman.
“I know Vermont is the best place to live, but I also know that as a working professional it can be hard to make ends meet here in Chittenden County. My service on county and statewide community planning boards has shown me the extent of the affordability challenges we face in this county,” the attorney wrote in a post announcing his candidacy.