(Host) The campaign of Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate Cheryl Rivers has received a big boost. Congressman Bernie Sanders says he’ll support Rivers and help her raise money in her effort to unseat Republican incumbent Brian Dubie.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) Sanders’ decision to support Rivers came as a surprise to some political observers because there’s a Progressive candidate in the race – Burlington Representative Steve Hingtgen.
Sanders, who will be co-sponsoring a fundraising event for Rivers in Washington D.C. in about two weeks, says he’s backing her because they have a long history of working together:
(Sanders) “What has happened over the years is I have supported Progressives – members of the Progressive Party – and I have supported progressive Democrats. And that’s what I will continue to do. I would be surprised if there were not some members of the Progressive Party running for Legislature, for example, that I did not support. But I’ll also be supporting some progressive Democrats.”
(Kinzel) Rivers says she’s thrilled to get Sanders’ support and she thinks his backing could become a key development if she wins the Democratic nomination against former state senator Jan Backus. That’s because Rivers believes it will encourage a number of progressives to support her in the general election and thereby minimize the impact that Steve Hingtgen, the progressive candidate, will have on the race:
(Rivers) “We need to avoid splitting the vote in the same way that we did last time between Progressives and Democrats. And I believe this is an important signal that people that endorsed Anthony Pollina last time are confident that Cheryl Rivers is a candidate that embraces the values – and has a record to prove it – that they care about.”
(Kinzel) Hingtgen says he’s not totally surprised by Sanders’ decision to support a Democrat in this race. But Hingtgen says he’s disappointed that Rivers is actively raising money from out of state – that’s something Hingtgen says he won’t do:
(Hingtgen) “Unfortunately there’s a record in this state of politicians raising money from wealthy interests and I think that’s held back health care. But I’ve dedicated my campaign to clean money and to solving this problem and I’m not going to be distracted by what other people are doing.”
(Kinzel) Hingtgen says he’s optimistic that he’ll qualify for public funds this year. To achieve this goal he must raise roughly $17,000 in small donations. If he meets this requirement, he’ll be eligible for approximately $83,000 in state funds for his campaign.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.