Tag Archives: Martha Abbott

Vermont Progressive Party gets new ED

The Vermont Progressive Party has a new executive director.

Robert Millar, who has worked for the past several years on Bernie Sanders’ 2012 reelection campaign, will fill a post vacated after the November elections by Morgan Daybell.

According to a release sent out by the VPP this afternoon, Millar served on the Winooski School Board from 2010 to 2012 and has been a Progressive Justice of the Peace in Winooski since 2010.

“I am pleased that we were able to find someone who has both experience in, and a commitment to, our organization and an appreciation of the role we play in Vermont politics,” VPP chairwoman Martha Abbott said in a written statement.

Millar called the Progressive Party “one of the strongest, most important, liberal movements in the country and I’m proud to have been a part of that movement for the last several years.”

“The Progressive Party has been a part of the political landscape in Vermont for over 30 years, providing a voice for the working class and the many others whose voices were not being heard in the other two parties,” Millar said. “I’m thrilled that this position will allow me to continue to play a leading role in helping to guide the Party into the next 30 years of success, and beyond.”

After losing Prog recount, Annette Smith announces write-in candidacy for governor

The preliminary results are in for the Progressive gubernatorial primary recount, and it looks all but certain that party stalwart Martha Abbott will stave off a challenge from write-in candidate Annette Smith.

Abbott clung to a one-vote victory after the first tally, but the recount revealed an apparent transcription glitch in Westfield that resulted in an erroneous 53-vote jump for Smith, who serves as executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.

The new unofficial count is 381-340, though the results won’t become official until a judge signs off on them tomorrow.

Paradoxically, however, while the winner of the recount has bowed out of the race for governor, the loser used the occasion to formally announce her candidacy. Continue reading

Progressive Party gubernatorial recount slated for Thursday

Recounts of ballots for the Progressive Party’s gubernatorial primary will occur in courts across the state starting at 9 a.m. Thursday.

State officials had determined candidate Martha Abbott defeated write-in challenger Annette Smith 371-370 on Thursday after a canvassing committee corrected official results from Tuesday.

Elections officials will recount ballots in the Progressive Party by hand, unless otherwise notified, in county superior courts.

Judge Robert Bent issued the order Friday, which requires two election officials to transport all ballots cast in the primary election from their city or town to each of their respective county clerks.

The secretary of state’s office anticipates issuing a press release with the results, which could be declared Thursday or Friday.

GOP chairman now alleging election fraud by Shumlin, Progs

He doesn’t have any evidence to support the claim, other than the somewhat bizarre circumstances surrounding the apparently erroneous counting of votes in the Progressive gubernatorial primary. But Jack Lindley, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, just fired off a press release  alleging “collusion” between Gov. Peter Shumlin and Progressive candidate Martha Abbott.

Lindley says he’ll withhold the Republican signature on today’s updated report from the canvassing committee. The committee is, at Jim Condos’ behest, recertifying results in the Prog gubernatorial primary. The new results show Martha Abbott winning by a single vote over anti-mountaintop-wind activist Annette Smith. Smith has said she’ll request a recount.

Look for more from Press Bureau reporter David Taube in tomorrow’s editions of the Times Argus and Rutland Herald. Meantime, Lindley’s screed:

“I am withholding the Republican signature on today’s canvas report of the August 28 primary. This entire process has served to cast doubt on the validity, accuracy and accountability of the Secretary of State’s office and the whole election process.
It suggests collusion between the Shumlin campaign and the Progressive party nominee, who has miraculously has been declared a winner by a suspect process, who has now announced she didn’t really want the nomination after all; a person who has since declared she will decline a nomination she won in favor of Governor Shumlin. 
I will not allow our Republican vote to validate a process that does not pass the smell test.”

Write-in candidate Annette Smith plans for recount

MONTPELIER – Write-in candidate Annette Smith said she now plans to request a recount, which was previously not an option.

When primary results were certified Tuesday, Progressive Party candidate Martha Abbott was officially declared the winner. Abbott defeated Smith 371-354, and Abbott ended her campaign as governor later that day.

Smith was not eligible for a recount, though, because the 17-vote difference wasn’t close enough. A 2 percent difference from the total amount of votes cast was required, which Smith missed by two votes.

The canvassing committee will meet at 4 p.m. at the secretary of state’s office, though, to recertify the results. State officials say the total will now be 371-370, with Smith losing by one vote but now eligible for a recount.

She plans to file the petition for a recount in Washington County Superior Court today after the results are recertified.

Abbott declared winner, but controversy over Prog gubernatorial nod continues

Progressive gubernatorial candidate Martha Abbott today celebrated victory in her party’s primary, then immediately declined the nomination.

According to the state Canvassing Committee, whose job it is to declare winners and losers, Abbott managed to fend off a surprise write-in campaign launched on behalf of anti-ridgeline-wind activist Annette Smith. Smith isn’t ready to concede the race just yet – more on that later. But Abbott today withdrew from the race, and urged her supporters to get behind Gov. Peter Shumlin.

“After talking with Progressives throughout the State, it is clear that most want to stay out of the Governor’s race this year,” Abbott said in a written statement. “Gov. Shumlin has shown that he is fully committed to implementing a single-payer health care plan and to closing Vermont Yankee, priorities which Progressives have worked on for decades. It is important that Shumlin receive large majorities in the election to demonstrate the political will of Vermonters to continue to put these policies in place.”

By keeping a third-party candidate off the general election ballot, Abbott aims to help Shumlin win a more convincing electoral mandate.

She said Progressives aren’t pleased with the Democratic incumbent on all fronts.

“Progressives have differences with Gov. Shumlin on tax policy, on labor issues, on issues of sustainable economic development, agriculture policy, buyingVermontfirst, the F-35s, starting a State Bank and private for-profit development ofVermont’s resources for energy production, and we will continue to fight for these issues in the Legislature and in political campaigns,” Abbott said.

But ideological differences notwithstanding, Abbott said “we must be strategic about which races we chose to run in so we can continue to be effective advocates for the issues we believe in. For these reasons, I am declining the Progressive nomination for Governor in 2012.”

Not everyone is convinced, however, that the nomination is Abbott’s to decline. Smith and some of her supporters are calling for a deeper look at alleged irregularities in the voting process last Tuesday, and have questioned the legitimacy of the vote count certified by the canvassing committee.

Though Abbott and Smith are separated by only 17 votes, 371-354, Smith can’t call for a recount. Elections law allows a candidate to demand another tally only when the top two candidates are separated by a margin of fewer than 2 percent, and with such a small turnout in the Prog primary, the 17-vote margin fails to meet that threshold.

But Smith says there are other legal options to pursue, including petitioning for a recount in superior court. Stay tuned…

Martha Abbott aims to win suddenly competitive Progressive primary

As the lone candidate for governor on the Progressive Party’s primary ballot, Martha Abbott looked to have the nomination pretty well in hand.

Until last Tuesday, when she, along with the rest of the political community, learned of an under-the-radar write-campaign launched on behalf of anti-big-wind activist Annette Smith.

Abbott is taking the competition in stride.

“I think it’s exciting, because it raises the level of interest in our primary, which is good,” Abbott told the Vermont Press Bureau on Friday. “I do kind of wish they had come to the process earlier and engaged with us on these questions when they were coming up with their strategy for this particular election, but I do think it’s a good thing to have more people engaged.”

But make no mistake, Abbott aims to win.

“I do want to win, and we’re just putting the word out to people that there is a reason to vote in the Progressive primary,” Abbott says.

All eyes next Tuesday will, of course, be on the Democratic primary for attorney general. But the outcome of the Progressive gubernatorial contest will have a more lingering effect on electoral dynamics in November.

A victory for Smith would be a huge win for opponents of mountaintop wind development, a constituency that has proven its ability to organize on a dime and turn out dozens of vocal, attention-grabbing protestors with little advance notice.

With a major-party gubernatorial candidate leading their charge, the single-issue crowd could shake up what has until now been a two-way race between Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin and Republican Randy Brock. And if Smith, an articulate advocate who isn’t afraid to throw rhetorical elbows at Shumlin, manages to snag a third podium at high-profile gubernatorial debates, it could complicate the incumbent’s strategy.

Abbott, meanwhile, might well choose to end her candidacy on the same day she wins her party’s nod. Candidates have three days to withdraw before the general-election ballots are printed, and Abbott, who in June said she was running in part to keep a rogue candidate from hijacking the Progressive nomination, said that, if victorious, she’ll make an announcement next Tuesday or Wednesday about whether she’ll continue on into the general.

Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment – in addition to ridgeline wind, her organization has also taken hard stands against issues like chloramine in drinking water and the merger of Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service Corp. – says she has only indirect knowledge of the write-in campaign.

If she were to win the Progressive nomination, she said last week, she’d decide whether or not to run (though she has given organizers of the write-in effort her blessing to launch the campaign).

Abbott says she’s not against ridgeline wind development, but would like to see Vermonters retain control over the development of natural resources, rather than see them co-opted by corporate interests.

So does Smith have a chance? That all depends on how many pro-Abbott Progressives decide to vote in the Democratic attorney general primary – Vermonters can vote in any primary they choose, but can choose only one primary to vote in – and how good the anti-big-wind crowd is at getting out the vote.

If past turnout is any indication, then a win for Smith is well within the realm of possibility. In the 2010 primary, only 533 people voted in the Progressive primary. In 2008, it was 470. You need more signatures than that just to get on the gubernatorial ballot.

Opponents of ridge-top wind seek major-party gubernatorial nominee

Add another contested race to the Aug. 28 primary.

A coalition of Vermonters opposed to ridge-top wind development is mounting a write-in campaign in the Progressive gubernatorial primary on behalf of one of their own.

Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, is among the more prominent figures in the anti-big-wind movement, and her fellow activists want her the November ballot.

Smith this afternoon denied any direct knowledge of the write-in campaign and said she wasn’t interested in talking politics.

“I’m doing my work, Vermonters for a Clean Environment work, and that’s what I have the capacity to talk about,” Smith said.

Pressed, she said she was aware that others might be working to make her the Progressive Party’s nominee.

“I know there’s an effort going on,” Smith said. “There are a lot of people who are upset and who are very, very unhappy with the status quo.”

Upset enough to set up a website – http://annettesmithforvermontgov.blogspot.com/ – that beseeches like-minded voters to write-in Smith’s name in two weeks.

Peggy Sapphire, a Craftsbury resident opposed to what she calls “corporate” wind, said the effort came together after fellow activists decided they needed a foil to Gov. Peter Shumlin, who is generally viewed by the movement as a friend of corporate wind interests.

“We do feel that we need to offer an alternative,” Sapphire said this afternoon. “We’re certainly not expecting she’ll win, however we cannot bring ourselves to vote for Shumin, and neither do we want to vote for Mr. Brock. And this is a way of gathering our numbers and making a statement at a time when people will pay attention.”

Morgan Daybell, executive director of the Vermont Progressive Party, said he learned of the write-in campaign on Tuesday morning. Perennial Progressive Party nominee Martha Abbott will appear on primary ballots as the gubernatorial nominee, and Daybell said she was endorsed by the party at its state committee meeting on Sunday.

Daybell said news of the write-in campaign came as a surprise, “but I wouldn’t say it’s unwelcome.”

“I think it’s good to have a contest in a primary,” Daybell said.

He said he didn’t know much about Smith or her political views.