Copeland Hanzas Drops Bid for House Speaker, Endorses Krowinski | Off Message

Copeland Hanzas Drops Bid for House Speaker, Endorses Krowinski

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Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas

Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas (D-Bradford) has exited the race for speaker of the Vermont House, likely clearing the path for Rep. Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington) to lead the chamber in January.

Days after Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) lost her House seat this month, Copeland Hanzas became the first candidate to declare her interest in the speakership and began lobbying colleagues for support.

"Through those conversations it became clear to me that Jill Krowinski is very well respected and that many members of the House see her ascendancy to the speakership as a logical next step," Copeland Hanzas said. "I'm quite certain she will be a fine speaker, and I'm happy to support her."

In addition to Krowinski, at least one other candidate remains in the running. Rep. Charlie Kimbell (D-Woodstock), a two-term moderate from the Upper Valley, said he's continuing to seek support for his candidacy, but he acknowledged that he was unlikely to prevail. "It's still possible, but the odds are long," he said.

Krowinski, who has served as Johnson's majority leader for the past four years, has been reluctant to publicly campaign for the job until the current speaker's electoral fate is certain. A recount for Johnson's House race is scheduled for this Friday.

"My focus is to do everything I can to support her and prepare our House Democrats for the upcoming session," Krowinski said. "Once the recount results are announced on Friday, we'll have a unified candidate to run for speaker at our caucus in December."

House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski, left, and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson - FILE: JEB WALLACE BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace Brodeur
  • House Majority Leader Jill Krowinski, left, and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson

According to Kimbell, he and Krowinski plan to compare notes on Friday to determine who had lined up more votes. "We're going to show each other our cards, basically," he said.

House Democrats are scheduled to nominate a candidate for speaker on December 5, but a formal vote to fill the post won't take place until legislators take office in January.

Copeland Hanzas, a veteran of the House and a former majority leader, said she hopes to continue serving as chair of the House Committee on Government Operations next session and as cochair of the Vermont Climate Solutions Caucus.