Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans) speaking at a press conference
Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans) is running for governor of Vermont after all.
The deadline to get onto the ballot was May 31, but Angelo Napolitano, a self-described right-leaning Libertarian from Waitsfield, is launching a campaign to get voters to write in Rodgers during the Democratic primary.
Rodgers, a fierce gun rights supporter, toyed with the idea of running in April after Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed sweeping gun regulations into law. The state senator decided against it last month, citing the demands of running his construction business.
Rodgers acquiesced when Napolitano and others approached him about running as a write-in candidate, but he said his construction work would prevent him from campaigning for the primary.
"It's sort of grassroots effort, and they certainly seem to be doing some work," Rodgers noted in an interview Thursday.
Rodgers also made it clear he wanted to run as a Democrat, though he'd previously considered running as a Republican or independent. "I’ve always served as a Democrat. That’s what I feel like I am, even though I feel like the state party has left me," he said.
Rodgers will face off against four other Democratic candidates whose names will be on the ballot: James Ehlers, Christine Hallquist, Brenda Siegel and 14-year-old Ethan Sonneborn.
Calling the arrangement a “win-win” for Rodgers, Napolitano pointed out that if the write-in campaign fails, Rodgers can still run for his state Senate seat. “If he beats the other Democrats, which he will, then he goes on to face Phil Scott, and he’s got a better than 80/20 chance of beating Phil Scott,” Napolitano predicted.
Napolitano said the gun legislation was only part of what inspired the effort. “He’s one of the last blue dog Democrats,” he said of Rodgers, noting that the write-in candidate "is the only one that has the fire in his belly to beat Phil Scott.”