It's been 14 years since Dean Corren left the Vermont House. But with the state moving ever closer to providing universal health insurance coverage, he says it's time to get back in the game.
"I think this one of the most exciting times since I've been involved in Vermont and Vermont politics," the Burlington Progressive says. "I think we're on the verge of doing things we've been talking about for many decades — things the people want and the politicians are catching up with."
Corren announced Wednesday that he plans to challenge Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott for the state's number two office. He's joining a field that already includes John Bauer, a Democratic Party activist from Jeffersonville, and Marina Brown, a Liberty Union Party candidate from Charleston.
And that may not be all. Top Democrats have been casting about for a better-known alternative to Bauer, and several legislators and administration officials are apparently considering a run.
Corren says he's not worried about Progressives and Democrats splitting Vermont's left-leaning voters and won't comment on Scott's performance, other than to say that when it comes to single-payer health care, "It would be nice if everybody was pushing in the same direction."
During his eight years in the House in the 1990s, Corren says, he drafted the first bill seeking to create a single-payer health insurance system. If elected, he says he would also focus on renewable energy and economic issues.
A Middlebury College graduate with a Master's degree from New York University, Corren serves as chief technology officer for Vermont Power, a renewable energy company that has been attempting to build a field of underwater turbines in New York City's East River. An inventor, Corren patented the first underwater kinetic hydropower turbine. After leaving the the Vermont House in 2000, Corren served two years as then-congressman Bernie Sanders' outreach director.
"It's not really a political campaign, but a [public financing] qualifying campaign until June 12," he says.
If successful, Corren would receive up to $50,000 to fund his primary bid and another $150,000 for the general election. Scott, who has roughly $48,000 in his campaign account, has said he will not seek public financing.
"I am absolutely unwilling to call donors to ask for [large contributions] or take money from PACs or corporations, inside or outside Vermont," Corren says. "Qualifying, I think, will give us a big step up and really kick off the campaign."