Vermont Democratic Party chair Terje Anderson is stepping down due to ongoing health issues, the party announced Thursday, just weeks before the August 11 primary election.
A prominent former AIDS activist, 62-year-old Anderson has been party chair since late 2017. In a statement, Anderson said the unspecified health problems prevent him from being able to devote enough time and energy to the role.
"Serving as Vermont Democratic Party chair has been one of the greatest honors of my decades of political involvement, and it greatly saddens me to have to leave," he wrote. "But, especially during an election year, the party deserves to have a chair who can fulfill the role. I will remain involved and fully support the VDP in any way I can going forward, albeit in a more limited capacity."
Party bylaws require the state committee to wait at least 30 days to elect a new chair following a resignation. Committee members plan to hold a special meeting to elect a new chair in late August or early September, according to a party press release.
"In the meantime, Anderson will be working with an ad hoc committee of party officers and committee members to make certain that all essential work of the chair is still done," the release stated.
The party said that under Anderson's leadership, it had grown Statehouse legislative majorities, reelected its statewide officeholders, negotiated with the first unionized party staff in the country and built up an "impressive state party warchest" ahead of the 2020 election.
The party has received $328,000 in contributions for the 2020 election cycle, federal filings show, shy of the $368,000 it had raised through June 30 of the 2018 cycle.
Spokesperson R. Christopher Di Mezzo noted that the party's largest annual fundraiser was delayed this year to October and said, "We are on track to surpass the total amount of 2018 contributions."
The party reported $79,889 in cash on hand as of June 30. Di Mezzo said the figure now exceeds $100,000.
Turnover has plagued the state party for the last few years, including the departure in April 2019 of Josh Massey, who spent just months as the organization's executive director. In July of that year, former director of party operations Brandon Batham resigned after he allegedly embezzled approximately $18,500 from party coffers.
Current executive director Scott McNeil was hired in September 2019.