"I believe Vermont is at a critical point right now where it has to make some very critical decisions about what kind of state it's going to be over the next generation, and I believe I have something to bring to that conversation," Graff says.
A graduate of Montpelier High School and Harvard College, Graff served as deputy national press secretary for former governor Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. Later, he founded a digital strategy firm, cofounded media website FishbowlDC and edited Washingtonian magazine. Graff has worked at Politico since July 2014, the last 10 months as editor of its magazine. His father, Chris Graff, served as the Associated Press’ Montpelier bureau chief for more than 25 years.
Despite his Vermont roots, the younger Graff’s residency could pose a challenge. He last lived in the Green Mountains during the Dean campaign in 2003 and early 2004, after which he moved to D.C. He and his wife, Katherine, recently bought a house in Burlington and are moving to the state later this week.
"I guess I don't think I have been unattached from the state. I remain very actively involved in various corners of the state and talking to people and have watched Vermont's transformation over the past decade very, very closely," he says. "I'm 34 years old and I've still spent the majority of my life in the state of Vermont and look forward to spending the next half-century of my life in the state of Vermont."
Whether Graff is constitutionally eligible to run for lieutenant governor is another question.
“No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor or Lieutenant-Governor until the person shall have resided in this State four years next preceding the day of election,” the Constitution says.
Asked Friday afternoon whether he was familiar with the state’s residency requirements, Graff said he had not looked into the matter. Later, after reviewing the Constitution and Vermont statutes, he said, “I don’t anticipate the residency requirement being a problem.”
Graff has remained a registered Vermont voter since he turned 18, he said, listing his parents’ Montpelier home as his address. He also has a Vermont driver’s license and car registration, he said.
According to Secretary of State Jim Condos the wording of the Constitutional requirement is a little unclear. He says he has reached out to Attorney General Bill Sorrell’s office to clarify whether it means such candidates must live in the state for the four years immediately preceding Election Day, or just four years total.
“We’re waiting for an opinion to understand what that means,” Condos says.
If Graff formally enters the LG race, he’ll face off against at least two Democrats, Rep. Kesha Ram (D-Burlington) and Marlboro businessman Brandon Riker, as well as one Republican, former senator and auditor Randy Brock.
Lieutenant governor may not be the only office Graff has eyed. As Vermont Public Radio’s John Dillon and Taylor Dobbs wrote on Twitter earlier Friday, the potential candidate reserved at least two domain names — graffforgovernor.com and graffforsenate.com — in September.
“I wouldn’t read anything into those domain names at all,” Graff says. “I’ve purchased dozens of domain names over the years for various things and own all sorts of different ones.”
He says he was not considering running for governor or Senate when he bought those two domain names.