Hallquist to Run for Governor, Leave Vermont Electric Coop | Off Message

Hallquist to Run for Governor, Leave Vermont Electric Coop


Christine Hallquist - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Christine Hallquist
Vermont Electric Cooperative CEO Christine Hallquist plans to resign from the company Tuesday in order to run for governor.

"That is my intention," she told Seven Days Monday.

While Hallquist said she does not plan to make a formal campaign announcement for several more weeks, she has settled on a campaign manager and intends to negotiate a "permanent separation" from VEC on Tuesday at a meeting of its board of directors.

"I want to respect the company and not leave things in limbo," she said, adding that the exact timing of her departure remained up in the air.

Hallquist, a 61-year-old resident of Hyde Park, would join Lake Champlain International executive director James Ehlers and eighth-grader Ethan Sonneborn in seeking the Democratic nomination. Gov. Phil Scott, a first-term Republican, is expected to seek reelection.

If she wins the Democratic nod, Hallquist would become the nation's first transgender, major-party gubernatorial nominee. Seven Days first reported her interest in the race last month, and WPTZ-TV broke the news Monday that she plans to leave VEC to run for governor.

Hallquist said Monday that she has been "organizing a campaign team" and is preparing to hire Cameron Russell as her campaign manager. Russell led the Vermont Democratic Party's coordinated campaign in 2016 and currently serves as outreach director of the advocacy group Rights & Democracy. He said he plans to remain with R&D "through the end of this week" and then settle on an exact start date with the Hallquist campaign.

"I think she's in this for the right reasons," Russell said. "I believe in her candidacy and what she stands for and what she'll be able to do as governor."

The would-be candidate said she would have to raise "over $2 million" to finance a winning campaign, but she expressed confidence that she would be able to do so. "I expect to be able to raise more," she said.

Hallquist said that rural economic development would be the "No. 1" issue of her campaign. She also plans to advocate for "proper safety nets" for unemployed Vermonters, universal healthcare, universal broadband and a $15 minimum wage. Hallquist said she supports "sensible gun legislation," including bills requiring all those purchasing firearms to undergo background checks.

"That has to be a priority right now," she said.