Progressive Corren seeks Dem support; some balk


MONTPELIER (AP) -- Dean Corren, a Progressive running for Vermont lieutenant governor, says he'll talk up his support for single-payer health care when he appears before the Democratic state committee.

No Democrat is currently running for lieutenant governor, but Corren's scheduled remarks Saturday have rankled some members of the state Senate, who are supporting incumbent Republican Phil Scott. The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate and Scott has made many friends among that body's Democratic majority.

Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell told Vermont Public Radio he's annoyed at the thought of a Progressive winning enough write-in votes -- 250 or more -- during the Aug. 26 primary to win the Democratic nomination.

Campbell said that possibility reflects a flaw in Vermont's election system. He did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Friday.

But Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth told the AP that Corren's positions are more in line with his own values.

Both Baruth and Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison, said they were disappointed no Democrat is in the race, meaning their choices will likely end up being a Progressive or a Republican.

Ayer said she personally likes Scott but could not vote for him, citing two tie-breaking votes he had cast in 2013 in opposition to one of her top initiatives: legislation to allow doctors to provide lethal medication to terminally ill patients who wish to end their lives.

"If he did that on health care, for example, I would have to blame myself if I voted for him," Ayer said.

Gov. Peter Shumlin's push for universal, single-payer health care, which has had strong support from Ayer and other liberal Democrats in the Legislature, is expected to come to a head in the next legislative term. Lawmakers are expected to grapple with how to finance the system, what sorts of benefits it will provide and other details. Scott has expressed "serious concerns" about the proposal.

One Senate Democrat supporting Scott, Sen. Dick Mazza of the Grand Isle-Chittenden district, said he appreciated the job Scott has done during his two terms presiding over the Senate.

"There's no secret there's quite a group assembling for Phil Scott to help him out in his campaign," Mazza said. Mazza said he has nothing against Corren, but thought he should have gotten his name on the Democratic primary ballot if he wanted support from the party.

Baruth and Corren both argued, though, that there's a long history of Vermont Democrats supporting members of the left-leaning Progressive Party, with some candidates, including current state Auditor Doug Hoffer, running with the nominations of both parties.

Democrats did not nominate a U.S. Senate candidate in 2012, instead endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who describes himself as a democratic socialist.


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