Instead of relying on promises about what he would do as attorney general in the future, incumbent Bill Sorrell said he’ll point primary voters to the high points of his 15-year record as the state’s top law-enforcement officer.
From a suit against Big Tobacco that continues to yield tens of millions annually in settlement fees to the successful defense of stricter auto emissions standards, Sorrell this morning said his track record will provide his best defense against the primary challenge announced this morning by Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan.
“I’m looking forward to a primary campaign in which I can talk about my plans for the future but can also point to the many things that I’ve done in the consumer protection, environmental protection and criminal justice areas and the many Vermont laws that I have successfully defended in state and federal courts,” Sorrell told the Vermont Press Bureau this morning.
As we reported earlier today, the most serious electoral challenge of Sorrell’s 15-year tenure will come from within his own party’s ranks.
Donovan says “it’s time for new ideas.”
Sorrell says there’s no need to fix what clearly ain’t broke.
“My record in this office is one I’ll be proud to defend,” Sorrell said.
The seven-term incumbent has come under heavy scrutiny since his office lost a key case in U.S. District Court against the owners of Vermont Yankee earlier this year. Combined with losses in the U.S. Supreme Court in cases dealing withVermont’s campaign-finance and prescription-drug marketing laws, it was Sorrell’s third high-profile loss in recent years.
Sorrell, however, says it’s unfair to make him the fall guy for trying to defend some of the most progressive statutes in the country against one of the most conservative supreme courts ever assembled.
“We’ve had two rough outings before the Supreme Court. I’m sorry for that,” Sorrell said. “But this is the court that handed down the Citizens United decision.”
Sorrell said he has yet to bring on any campaign staff but knows he’ll need money and manpower to stave off the stiffest challenge of his electoral career. Since being appointed to the post mid-term by then-Gov. Howard Dean in 1997, Sorrell has cruised to easy reelections against relatively unremarkable competition.
Asked at a press conference recently whether he’d be supporting Sorrell’s reelection, Peter Shumlin evaded the question entirely, leaving some to question his allegiance to the longtime AG.
Sorrell though said he has at least one high-profile backer: Howard Dean.
“Howard Dean will certainly be supportive – I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Sorrell said.