06/28/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
Vermont Senate Majority Leader Peter Shumlin may have just blown the upcoming gubernatorial election, but probably not for being pulled over for speeding. Shumlin was pulled over by police on Interstate 91 doing 81 miles per hour. This may not be a huge problem, though it certainly shows the nature of Vermont where the story ten minutes into the nightly news is that the Senate Majority Leader got a speeding ticket.
The officer and Shumlin exchanged some banter, and Shumlin had no problem admitting that he broke the law and paid his ticket.
Trooper: “I had you at 81 – are you in a hurry?”
Shumlin: “Yeah. I’ve already been in Brattleboro.
Trooper: “Ok, campaigning?”
Shumlin: “Then head to Burlington to a forum… inaudible…. some bs going on.
Shumlin: “Hoping to have you drive me in a few months.”
Trooper: “It won’t be me.”
The problem may arise from the central comment “Then head to Burlington to a forum… inaudible…some bs going on.” That singular statement may get Shumlin into trouble with the voters because most Vermont voters take politics very seriously, especially for big races like Governor. It is unlikely that they take too kindly to any kind of forum being portrayed as ‘bs’.
Shumlin is in a pack of five Democrats looking to replace Governor Jim Douglas. Currently, Shumlin is not one of the high profile Democrats running. Indications are that the two to keep an eye on are State Senator and former Lieutenant Governor Douglas Racine and current Secretary of State Deborah Markowitz. If either wins the general election, they will be the first Democrat to serve since Howard Dean. Both have worked with former Governor Dean. Racine as Lt. Governor, and Markowitz as Secretary of State, a position that she has held since 1998.
Some scarce polling has shown that Markowitz could be the stronger of the candidates, and most likely to defeat current Lt. Governor Brian Dubie. The problem for Shumlin is that this singular event could be one of the few events that define Shumlin in this horrifically contentious Democratic primary.
Shumlin was the man who helped usher marriage rights for same-sex couples through the State Senate last year. Racine voted for it as well. Governor Douglas vetoed it.