September 5, 2012

Abbott tops Smith in Progressive Primary for governor, declines nomination

by Greg Guma | 4 September 2012

Martha Abbott, the chair of the Progressive Party, just barely beat out Annette Smith, a write-in candidate backed by an ad hoc group of activists, in the Progressive primary for governor. Abbott won 371 votes statewide, while Smith garnered 354 votes out of a total of 382 write-ins.

Smith has been a leader in the fight against industrial wind power projects, and won broader support for a shoestring, two-week write-in effort.

As expected, Abbott immediately declined the Progressive nomination.

For the second election cycle in a row, Party Chairwoman Martha Abbott has decided to decline the Progressive Party nomination to run against Gov. Peter Shumlin, this time after narrowly winning the nod to a write-in candidate.

In a statement released Tuesday, Abbott said that she had decided, “after talking with Progressives throughout the State,” that most of them want her to stay out of the race. Citing Shumlin’s support for two key Progressive issues – single payer health care and closing Vermont Yankee – she argued that it is important for Shumlin to “receive large majorities” in order to show Vermont’s political will on those issues.

However, she also listed a series of substantive differences with the governor, including on labor issues, sustainable development, the F-35s, a state bank and “private for-profit development of Vermont’s resources for energy production.”

Most of the action in the Vermont primary centered on the attorney general’s race, but around 900 people still chose to vote Progressive.

Signs of dissent also surfaced during a Labor Day campaign event organized by Sen. Bernie Sanders. At a barbeque and rally in Battery Park, Sanders addressed hundreds about the one percent and how Vermont can lead the country “in a very different direction.” Just below the bandstand to his right, however, a row of protesters held signs opposing the F-35s and asking the independent known for his principled stands against corporate power, “Don’t Betray Us.”

Vermont Progressives have not fielded a candidate for governor since 2008, the second of two runs by Anthony Pollina. His first was in 2000, when he received 9.5 percent in a crowded field with Republican Ruth Dwyer and incumbent governor Howard Dean, who won with 50.4 percent.

Two years later, in the race for lieutenant governor, Pollina received 24.8 percent in a three-way race, behind Shumlin, with 32.1 percent, and Brian Dubie, who won with 41.2. Dean was planning a race for president at the time. Michael Badamo ran for governor as a Progressive – without much support from the party, and got only .6 percent. Jim Douglas was elected.

During Pollina’s 2008 run for governor, the Progressive leader abruptly announced that he would appear on the ballot as an independent. It was “by far the best way” to build a coalition, he claimed. The decision nevertheless raised questions about the future of the party.

Abbott stood at Pollina’s side for that announcement, saying that “most Progressives will support his decision.”

Pollina’s campaign won backing the three largest unions in the state as well as the Gun Owners of Vermont, which has also backed Sanders in campaigns. When the votes were counted, however, he was second with 21.8 percent, a tenth of a percentage ahead of the Democrat. Douglas won again, this time with 53.4 percent.

In 2010 Pollina won a race for the state Senate running as a Progressive and Democrat, along with Chittenden County Sen. Tim Ashe. After seeking the Progressive nomination for governor that year, Abbott announced that she was declining to run, for reasons similar to those in her new announcement.

Editor’s note: Anne Galloway contributed to this report.

[rest of article available at source]

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