Shortage of major party candidates in statewide races

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(Host) With an active political season underway, attention is focused on the election for U.S. Senate and House and the top statewide posts.

But it could be a quiet election year in races for some statewide offices due to a lack of major party candidates.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) One week from today is the deadline for candidates with Vermont’s four major party political parties to file with the Secretary of State’s office in order for their names to appear on the ballot for the September primary, and, if they prevail on the November ballot.

There’s a noticeable shortage of major party candidates in several statewide races.

Republicans have been working to field contenders to run against Democratic incumbents Treasurer Jeb Spaulding and Secretary of State Deb Markowitz.

Republican Party Chairman Jim Barnet says an opponent to Markowitz will announce this week.

He says it’s a challenge to find people who want to invest time and energy in a statewide race for the lower tier offices.

(Barnett) “Also, there’s not a lot of issues that revolve around the duties of those offices that generate a lot of excitement or antipathy that would cause somebody to want to kick out the incumbents, although there’s often good reasons why that should happen.”

(Zind) Vermont’s Progressive is fielding only one candidate for statewide office this year. Executive Director Marrisa Caldwell says that’s by design rather than default.

(Caldwell) “It really is a matter of resources. We’re only six years old and it’s important for us to win the races that we can win and figure out where we can have the most effect.”

(Zind) Caldwell says the party is focusing on legislative races in November.

The Liberty Union Party, which two years ago regained major party status for the first time in a decade says it plans to run candidates for all statewide offices with the possible exception of Attorney General.

By not running a person for a statewide office, a party leaves itself open to the possibility that someone could launch a primary election write-in campaign and become the party’s candidate without its endorsement.

A little used provision in Vermont’s election law does give parties a brief one week window after the primary to nominate a candidate for the general election.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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