VTdigger.org profiles executive director of Vermont Progressive Party

From VTdigger.org:

The 40-year-old [Morgan] doesn’t come across as a politician of any stripe; he is a soft-spoken spokesman for the third major party in Vermont, and he has the unenviable task of fielding questions on the touchy issue of whether the Progressives are election spoilers rather than a “keep’em honest” corrective to Democratic candidates who are unwilling to take strong positions on issues that matter to the Progressives.

The Progressive Party has been active statewide for only about 10 years, and Daybell, who moved to Vermont in 1999, got involved with the party right away. The Progressives’ mascot – the signature bull moose on the literature and on campaign buttons — harks back to Teddy Roosevelt 100 years ago, but, in fact, the state level Vermont Progressive Party grew out of the “Party of Bernie Sanders,” the Chittenden County/City of Burlington movement of 30 years ago that gave Sanders, who has severed formal ties to the Progressive Party, his start. (Daybell says Sen. Sanders will stump for Progressive candidates with whom he had connections in the past, but he hasn’t been promoting the political careers of young candidates whom the party must depend on for its long-term survival.)

Anthony Pollina is the most prominent Progressive to run for statewide office, and he has been criticized for siphoning votes from the Democratic Party in three recent elections. He ran for governor in 2000 against incumbent Howard Dean, the Democrat, and Ruth Dwyer, the Republican candidate. Pollina won 10 percent of the vote, which wasn’t enough to tip the balance for Dwyer, and Dean won with 50.4 percent of the vote. In 2002, Pollina campaigned for lieutenant governor and garnered 24 percent of the ballots. He ran again in 2008 – this time for governor, again – and tied with Democrat Gaye Symington. Together, they trailed the tally for Jim Douglas by 30,000 ballots, making Douglas the sure winner — even if Pollina had not run.

Last June, in an interview with Peter Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau about the field of Democratic candidates for governor (already up to three at that point), Daybell said, “Obviously, a two-person contest is better.” He went on to say, “In 2007 and 2008, Pollina’s attempts to reach out to Democrats was all part of a strategy to make it a two-way race in the absence of any strong Democratic candidate willing to run. How that plays out in 2010, I don’t know yet.”

Questions regarding the role the Progressives will play in this election cycle still hang in the air. Will Pollina run again, making the pre-primary campaign for governor a seven-way race? And now that Rep. David Zuckerman has dropped out of the lieutenant governor’s race, who will the Progressive contenders be for that seat and other statewide offices?

5 thoughts on “VTdigger.org profiles executive director of Vermont Progressive Party

  1. Vaughn Stull

    How is the relationship between the Liberty Union and the Progressives? Or the Green Party of Vermont? How does the Working Families party fit in?

    Anyone care to answer these questions?

  2. Jack Walker

    The Green Party in Vermont is not popular. In the last Burlington election (a left leaning city with a Progressive Party mayor) their candidates tended to win no more then two dozen votes (out of thousands). And, as far as I can tell, there is not much of a functioning statewide organization. They have never recieved major party staus. I can’t recall them getting more then 3% in a statewide election (and that was some years ago). So to answer your question, there is little to no talk between the VT Greens and the Progressives. Nor does their appear to be a real need (from a Progressive point of view) for such talk.

    The Liberty Union Party is the party that US Senator Bernie Sanders once belonged to (before becoming mayor of Burlington in 1981).
    Other Progressive Party leaders (such as Party Chair Martha Abbot) also started off in the Liberty Union.

    For the most part the Liberty Union have had major party status in Vermont for 30 years. To acheive this status one of their candidates needs to poll at least 5% of the vote in one statewide contest (other then for Congress) every two years. All that said, the LU lost that status in the last election when there top candidate (Jerry Levy) recieved 3 or 4% in the race for Auditor. However, smart money says that they will get that major party status back in 2010 or 2012.

    As far as their relations with the Progressives go, they are usualy not good at all. The Liberty Union is allied with the Socialist Party USA and is actualy much further to the left then the Socialist Party. Therefore, they often see the Progressives (who are essentualy social-democracts) as “sell outs.” Hence it is not unusual for the LU to run against Progs.

    In my opinion this is a very unfortunate situation. –At the end of the day, the LU is good for one to 6 percent of the vote in any given race. The Progs, on the other hand, can win an election outright. In my mind they should at least come together on issues like single-payer healthcare, livable wages, expanding democracy, etc..

    One bright spot is that they both endorsed the same candidate (Dave Vandusen) in a local Selectboard race in Moretown, Vermont, in 2009 and 2010. And this candidate won both elections!

  3. Peter M.

    I’m not sure I’d characterise Liberty Union as “much further to the left than the Socialist Party.” That might have been true ten years ago, and it is still true that those members of Liberty Union who are also SP members are on the left of the SP, but now I’d say they’re part of the majority.

    Otherwise, that seems like a fairly good assessment. From the point of view of the Progressives being “sell-outs,” they do tend to run on Democratic (and occasionally Republican) ballot lines in addition to Progressive in state legislature races, so their electoral independence from the Democratic Party could be called into question on that point. Would, for example, Progressives be equally as competitive in a three-way race (Dem/Rep/Prog)? While I personally wouldn’t mind seeing Liberty Union work with the Progressives on issues you’ve mentioned, the issue of ballot fusion with the Democrats would have to be taken up first.

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