Analysts: Endorsements That Matter Bring In Money, Volunteers

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(Host) Analysts say the endorsements in a political campaign that really matter are those that result in money and volunteers.

The support of a statewide environmental group can draw some attention, especially in the crowded field of five Democrats running for governor.

That was the case on Monday for Doug Racine.

VPR’s John Dillon has more.

(Dillon) The endorsement from the League of Conservation Voters follows support Racine received earlier from the teachers union, the state employees union and a statewide labor group.

League Executive Director Todd Bailey said the organization will reach out to 30,000 voters between now and the August 24th primary.

(Bailey) So we’re going attempt to communicate with them and organize them, starting today, in hopes of really putting out a vigorous effort to make sure they go to the polls. I think everybody expects turnout in the primary to be very low, and we’re attempting to drive that up as high as we can. We’ll have some early voting programs that we put in place to encourage people to vote throughout the summer.

(Dillon) Garrison Nelson teaches political science at the University of Vermont. He says support from the unions or environmentalists may get people to the polls.

(Nelson) "The endorsements are a signal. And that’s really the crucial aspect of this for the Racine candidacy. And the assumption is that the people who make these endorsements are much more highly motivated than your average voter. And so consequently they are much more likely to participate than the general public."

(Dillon) The conservation voters said they back Racine because of his long record on environmental issues including work on Act 250 and permit reform.

Racine is a former lieutenant governor and Chittenden senator who was first elected to the Senate in the 1980s, then was elected to the Senate again in 2006. He works for his family’s car dealership, and said protecting the environment was essential to improving the economy.

(Racine) "We’re asked as candidates frequently what are you going to do about creating jobs in this state? And my answer is we need to maintain the foundation of a good economy, and I always start with maintaining the quality of life in this state."

(Dillon) The League of Conservation Voters said it made its decision based on the candidates’ commitment to the environment as well as his or her ability to get elected.

It cited Racine’s three other endorsements as a factor in his potential "electability."

Two other campaigns responded to the endorsement. Senate President Peter Shumlin pointed to his own record on Vermont Yankee and climate change legislation. And Lamoille Senator Susan Bartlett said she was disappointed. She said that the League’s decision showed that moderates such as herself do not get endorsements from special interest groups.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

Visit VPR’s 2010 gubernatorial candidate interview page


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