A Vermont Democratic Party mailer that hit houses around the state this weekend was an all-inclusive affair.
Featured on the front — alongside Democrats Peter Shumlin, Patrick Leahy and Peter Welch — is a photo of Vermont's self-described socialist, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Dems but is running for reelection this November as an independent. On the back — alongside Democrats Beth Pearce and Bill Sorrell — are three statewide candidates running under the Democratic and Progressive umbrella: Jim Condos (a "D/P"), Doug Hoffer (another "D/P") and Cassandra Gekas (a "P/D").
But in versions of the mailer sent to Chittenden County, one candidate is conspicuously absent. Five of the six state Senate candidates who won the Democratic primary are listed as the party's county slate, but not David Zuckerman, who, like Gekas, is running as a "P/D."
So where's Hinesburg's ponytailed Prog?
As we reported in Fair Game last week, Senate President John Campbell has frozen Zuckerman out of the Senate Democrats' campaign efforts; the P/D won't get a dime of support from the caucus' political action committee. Now, according to Vermont Democratic Party chairman Jake Perkinson, Campbell's decision is being applied to state party efforts as well.
"The way the Vermont Democratic Party operates with respect to those campaigns is we take direction from the [House and Senate caucuses], not the candidates themselves," Perkinson says.
So why do Sanders and Gekas get to participate in the Dems' so-called "coordinated campaign?" Well, says Perkinson, statewide candidates like them have a chance to buy-in to the coordinated campaign — that is, contribute sufficient money to be included in mailers and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Did Zuckerman have a chance to buy-in?
"You'd have to talk to Dave and John Campbell about that because we don't reach out to the individual," Perkinson says. "There's, I guess you would call it, a chain of command."
As he did when he was shut out of Democratic caucus efforts, Zuckerman says he's trying to take the party's rebuke in stride.
"It's unfortunate," he says. "I reached out to work cooperatively and this is not exactly the response I was expecting, but I've got a campaign to run and I'm going to work on the issues when I get to Montpelier."
Not everyone under the Democrats' big tent thinks shutting out Zuck makes sense.
"In my opinion it's really silly that they would exclude David from the mailing," says Sen. Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden.) "The future is with Democrats and Progressives working together and this slight, which has been administered by a very small number of people, is a step in the wrong direction. It doesn't serve anyone well."
Like Zuckerman, Ashe originally hails from the Progressive Party. And like Zuckerman, he sought the Democratic nomination when he first ran for state senate in 2008. But unlike Zuckerman, these days Ashe puts that 'D' before his 'P.'
Either way, Ashe says Campbell's rebuke makes him likely to help his fellow hybrid out in the closing weeks of the race.
"It makes me more inclined to go out of my way to help provide David whatever support he needs to make sure he joins me in the Senate," Ashe says.
Disclosure: Tim Ashe is the domestic partner of Seven Days publisher and coeditor Paula Routly.