(Host) With Senator Jim Jeffords out of the running in next year’s election, the political parties are assessing the field of candidates.
One person getting some attention is the state’s adjutant general, Martha Rainville.
VPR’s Steve Zind has more.
(Zind) Rainville says this may be her last two-year term as Vermont’s adjutant general. Afterward she would likely leave the military.
In an interview with VPR several months ago, Rainville said that she wants to continue in public service and possibly go into politics.
(Rainville) “I have spent my life in public service in one way or the other and that what means the most to me so I will be looking for opportunities to do just that.”
(Zind) The opportunity may come sooner than Rainville expected. Her name is among those being discussed as a possible candidate for Congress, Senate or statewide office next year.
Political scientist, Eric Davis of Middlebury College, says Rainville would be a strong candidate.
(Davis) “She has ‘high name recognition.’ She’s an excellent public speaker. I think those two things would make her a candidate to look seriously at.”
(Zind) Rainville has been non-partisan in her role as adjutant general, but Davis says she would be an especially attractive candidate for the Republican Party for either U.S. House or Senate. Jim Barnett chairs the Vermont Republican Party.
(Barnett) “We don’t know much about her politically, but clearly she’s the type of person that Republicans would welcome into our camp and want as part of our team in 2006.”
(Zind) ) Barnett says he has spoken with Rainville since the Jeffords announcement.
Democratic Party leaders are more guarded in their comments. Party Chairman Peter Mallary:
(Mallary) “This is a person who’s efforts for Vermont so far really seem to transcend the political arena. But if she chose to get into that arena, I’m sure she would make a difference.”
(Zind) Mallary says he hasn’t spoken to Rainville since the Jeffords announcement, but Rainville says she has gotten calls from Democrats and Republicans alike in the past week. She says now isn’t the time for her to make any decisions about entering politics next year.
(Rainville) “I’m very honored and a little bit humbled by the calls that I’ve gotten. But right now, we’re in the process of sending more soldiers off and that has to be my focus right now.”
(Zind) Rainville won’t say how she votes. She’s spoken in support of the U.S. mission in Iraq, but Rainville has also encouraged Vermonters to question the war. She’s also raised questions about the use of the guard in the war and other Pentagon policies.
Rainville claims that right now she doesn’t see herself as a member of any political party.
(Rainville) “I can’t say that I’ve decided in my own mind. I think that I’ve had the luxury of a military officer of not thinking that way, of not having a state-of-mind, where you label yourself ‘one way or the other’.”
(Zind) Rainville says she wants to discourage speculation about a possible candidacy. But as long as she keeps the door open for a run in 2006, its likely speculation will continue to grow.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.