A WCAX/WDEV poll shows that incumbent Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell would beat his challenger TJ Donovan, Chittenden County state’s attorney, by 26 percentage points if the Democratic primary were held today.
Sorrell would garner 49.3 percent of the vote, while Donovan would get 23.2 percent of ballots cast in the Democratic primary, according to the poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute.
The survey of 607 Vermonters paid for by WCAX/WDEV also shows if Sen. Vince Illuzzi was the Republican challenger in the General Election, a Democrat — either Sorrell or Donovan — would win by a wide margin.
Sorrell backed by four senators
Sens. Claire Ayer, Sara Kittell, Robert Hartwell and Harold Giard have thrown their allegiance behind Sorrell. The four senators, who represent Addison, Franklin and Bennington counties, formally endorsed the incumbent attorney general on Monday.
Two of the senators emphasized Sorrell’s impact as a “national leader” in their endorsements.
In a statement, Ayer said Sorrell has made Vermont “a national leader on public health matters.”
“Bill’s fight against big tobacco alone has secured more than $300 million for Vermonters, with an additional $25 million guaranteed every year,” Ayer said. “You can’t argue with success like that.”
Hartwell cited Sorrell’s auto emissions standard fight as an example of the top law enforcement officer’s commitment to the environment.
“He made the state a leader in the fight for a safe and clean environment, not only helping Vermonters protect our own environment but setting a national precedent for other concerned citizens,” Hartwell said in a statement.
Sorrell, at a meeting of the Democratic state committee May 12, said his record speaks for itself, and noted his willingness to take on big corporations to defend the interests of Vermonters.
Senate Judiciary chair endorses Donovan
Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, endorsed attorney general candidate TJ Donovan Monday.
The senior senator said Donovan has his priorities straight in addressing problems facing Vermont, particularly in regard to prescription drug abuse, a cause Sears championed in the Senate this year.
“I think that he understands that it is a very serious health and criminal justice issue right now in Vermont,” Sears said of Donovan.
Bennington State’s Attorney Erica Marthage also endorsed Donovan at the press conference Monday morning. Marthage is chair of the executive board of state’s attorneys, which Donovan sits on.
“I have a lot of respect for Erica and I’m proud to receive her endorsement,” Donovan said. “It’s also about endorsement from a fellow law enforcement professional.”
Donovan had already received endorsements from the Vermont Sherriff’s Association, more than 100 Vermont lawyers, Rutland Mayor Chris Louras and the Vermont Democratic Committee. He said he was grateful that lawmakers had come to his corner as well.
“It’s a huge boost to my campaign to have the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee back my candidacy,” Donovan said.
Donovan’s campaign has largely focused on smaller issues – namely, prescription drug abuse – but he said he is ready to take on larger entities, including Entergy, as attorney general.
“I have no reluctance taking on corporations,” Donovan said. “There’s a lot of issues that are affecting everyday Vermonters that we can work on too. It’s not a question of either or; it’s about doing more for Vermont.”
Donovan knows he is taking on an incumbent AG who has held the office for more than a decade, and that he’s at a disadvantage when it comes to name recognition. He said Monday’s endorsements will help him in the southern part of the state, but there is much more to be done.
“I know I’m an underdog,” Donovan said, “I know this is going to be an uphill struggle for me, but nothing worthwhile is easy, and this is something that I am committed to. I’m going to work to the end, and we’re going to every town, every village, every hamlet, and I’m going to work until I hear that rooster crow on August 28.”
~ Taylor Dobbs