Zuckerman decides not to run for Congress

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(Host) Burlington Progressive David Zuckerman has decided not to run for Congress.

His decision was welcome news for Senate President Peter Welch, the Democratic candidate in the race.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) For the past few months, Zuckerman had been exploring a race for Vermont’s seat in the U.S. House.

He says he heard from people all over Vermont who urged him to run. But Zuckerman says people also told him they were afraid that his candidacy would split the Progressive and Democratic vote and help a Republican win the race.

(Zuckerman) “The real question was going to be how many people were going to vote out of fear. And I think that would have been a challenge to overcome.”

(Dillon) The 34-year-old lawmaker told a crowded news conference that other priorities – including a young family – also led him to opt out of the race.

(Zuckerman) “Please know that this was not an easy decision. Also know that I am not saying I am not running for statewide office ever, only that I am not running for office at this time.”

(Dillon) Zuckerman’s decision rounds out the field for the race to succeed Congressman Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch is the Democratic challenger. Republican Martha Rainville faces a primary contest against Bennington County Senator Mark Shepard and former Burlington restaurant owner Dennis Morriseau.

Zuckerman’s decision improves the odds for Welch, since Democrats and Progressives would not be splitting their vote. However, Zuckerman said he was not ready to endorse Welch at this time.

Welch says he’ll work for Progressive support.

(Welch) “Think this is the appropriate decision for him and I am going to work hard to show people that I can represent progressive values in this race and in Congress.”

(Dillon) Congressman Sanders, who is considered a political mentor by many Progressives, had strongly discouraged Zuckerman from entering the race.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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