September 11th, 2006

“The Best of the Next Generation”: VDB Endorsements, Democratic Primary 2006

by Philip Baruth

Over the course of the weekend, VDB had five or six separate conversations about the various choices for tomorrow’s Democratic primary.

Angst-filled conversations.

In some cases, people wanted to know how anyone could pretend to judge between candidates so equally matched. In others, people simply wanted to vent their frustrations — no matter how they voted, these folks confided, they would find themselves voting against a friend, an acquaintance, someone they knew to be worth their vote in any other situation.

The State’s Attorney race provoked most of this second sort of talk. People who know and like Donovan tend to know and like Kenney and Backus.

Suffice it to say that no matter who pulls away tomorrow, the Party will be extremely well served in the general election. Dunne, Tracy, Donovan, Kenney and Backus are all superior candidates, representative of the very, very deep bench the Democratic Party has developed in the year 2006. And VDB will strongly back the winner in each race, let the chips fall where they may.

Compare that to the Republican Party, which has this year opted for two new-comers — Tarrant and Rainville — partially because these unknown quantities were clearly preferable to the known. Not good, to put it mildly.

To the endorsements:

Lieutenant Governor

Matt Dunne has distinguished himself very early in life both as a smart, capable legislator, and as a very hard-charging campaigner. matt dunne, and judson

His policy inclinations cover the ideological spectrum, from nuts-and-bolts work in the private sector, fostering small business and high-tech, to impeccable credentials in the war against poverty — primarily as the director of AmeriCorps/Vista under then-President Bill Clinton.

He has pledged to cut the state’s shameful poverty rate by an even 50% over the next ten years, and if anyone can make this happen, Dunne can.

Just this noon, Dunne’s campaign stepped out aggressively on the International Paper tire-burn issue, calling for a boycott of IP products.

“We have given IP every opportunity to install technologies already in use at their other plants to prevent toxic air from polluting Vermont, including an offer to fund its installation . . . . With the test burn imminent pending the EPA’s decision, it’s time for concerned Vermonters, businesses, and especially state government, to send a clear and strong message to IP: Don’t trash Vermont.”

In short, the thinking on policy is bold, clear and correct.

As importantly, Dunne knew he wanted to run against Brian Dubie last fall, and he began preparing for the race as he’s prepared for each of the six House and Senate races he’s won in the southern end of the state: deftly, methodically, hungrily. Dunne began building a state-wide infrastructure that has reached, here in mid-September, truly impressive proportions.

And this last consideration is absolutely crucial. In running against even a semi-popular incumbent, you always need a candidate willing to run early and fast and without ever once stopping to rest.

Dunne has raised roughly three times more than his primary opponent. He has his first biographical television ad in rotation even as this endorsement is being written, which is to say that he’s already looking well past the primary, to the general — and past the general to how he’ll transform the Lieutenant Governor’s office over the next two years.

Among other innovations, Dunne plans to actually show up for work every day.

Months ago we knicknamed Dunne “The Cheetah,” to capture all of these strategic considerations in a single dynamic restless image.

We look forward to seeing Matt turned loose on Dubie in November.

State’s Attorney

T.J. Donovan has run a truly remarkable race thus far, pulling away from his talented and capable competitors on the basis of experience, desire, and unique personal charm.

The proof of this is that insider talk has turned over the last several weeks to the “Donovan Effect” — the various ways in which the visible surge of support T.J. has generated might impact other races up and down the ticket.

Impressive, to say the least. And of course, the man can quarterback with the best of them.

TJ looks down field

Rather than detail Donovan’s various strengths here, let VDB recommend our probing, in-depth interview, conducted this past July: “T.J. Donovan Is No William Shatner (And That’s a Very Good Thing).” From his work as a Deputy State’s Attorney, to his part in developing the County’s Drug Court, Donovan comes through in the discussion as a deeply experienced, genuinely caring prosecutor.

Like Dunne, Donovan is wise and qualified beyond his years. Together they represent the best of the generation currently surging into prominence, a generation that will not be denied.