Ding, ding! As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the filing deadline for those seeking election to state office in November has passed. Secretary of State Jim Condos just sent over an unofficial list of candidates — a "final draft" is expected by Monday — and we thought we'd share a few nuggets:
- The biggest surprise is this: the Democrats found a candidate to put up against race car rock star Phil Scott, the incumbent Republican lite guv. Who is it? Cassandra Gekas, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group's health care lobbyist. Gekas, who didn't immediately return a call for comment, is well-known around the Statehouse — but can she take down the Thunder Road king? That remains to be seen. [Also in the race is Progressive Marjorie Powers.]
- McMullen is in. Whoever wins the bruiser of a Democratic primary between incumbent Attorney General Bill Sorrell and challenger T.J. Donovan, the Chittenden County state's attorney, will face two-time U.S. Senate candidate Jack McMullen, a Republican. "I think I'll bring a new perspective to the office," McMullen told us today, noting his business and legal experience. He said he's hired a campaign manager and plans to be "financially competitive" with whoever wins the Democratic nod.
- Secretary of State Jim Condos is the only statewide candidate running without any competition. It's a remarkable gift to the first-term Democrat. You gotta wonder how the Republicans failed to drum up anyone to oppose him.
- Several contenders have joined the race for the six-member Chittenden County state senate district in addition to those we mentioned yesterday. Incumbents Diane Snelling, a Republican, and Tim Ashe, a Democrat and Progressive, have filed. Additional challengers include: Democrats Peter Hunt and David Zuckerman (who also plans to seek the Progressive nomination as a write-in), as well as independents Patrick Brown, Larkin Forney and Sean Selby.
- Sen. Vince Illuzzi (R-Essex/Orleans) finally made up his mind and filed a petition to run for state auditor as a Republican. Illuzzi (pictured above showing off his signatures to Stewart Ledbetter of WPTZ-TV) has spent the past few months publicly agonizing over what office to seek and from what party. This morning he demonstrated his media savvy, summoning a healthy contingent of the Vermont press corps to the Secretary of State's office to witness the conclusion of his journey of self-discovery. Here's what he said: "Over 32 years, I've cast tens of thousands of votes, and I am who I am. I'm not sure that in my particular case the letter after my name would mean as much as it would for someone just starting out in political life." With incumbent Tom Salmon, a Republican, stepping down, Illuzzi will face Doug Hoffer, a Democrat and Progressive.
- And... drum roll please... Perhaps the biggest story of the filing season is this: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has become too big to fail. The man who regularly nabbed between one and six percent of the vote in his early forays into electoral politics faces not a single well-known, well-funded opponent. Instead, he faces the following: Republicans John MacGovern and H. Brook Paige, Peace and Prosperity party member Peter Moss, VoteKISS party member Laurel LaFramboise and United States Marijuana party member Cris Ericson. Simply outrageous.