Who backed whom in the statewide elections

Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon backed Gov. Peter Shumlin in a press conference with the state’s mayors this fall. Photo by Anne Galloway

What do Democrat Gov. Peter Shumlin and Republican candidate for state treasurer Wendy Wilton have in common?

They are both endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

This example is one of many in which endorsements to statewide candidates buck party lines. The Vermont State Employees Association, for instance, endorsed the Democratic candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and treasurer, and also endorsed Republican candidate for auditor Vince Illuzzi and indpendent candidate for attorney general Ed Stanak, who previously ran the union as president.

Politicians showed a range of support, too. Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon openly endorsed Shumlin and, just like the NRA, endorsed Wilton — the two have vastly different views of how the state ought to run.

Many newspapers also danced to the beat of bipartisan endorsements, depending on the race. The Burlington Free Press and the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus both endorsed Shumlin and Democratic candidate for treasurer Beth Pearce, while also endorsing Republicans Illuzzi for auditor and Phil Scott for lieutenant governor.

One guy who got the short end of the press stick this election is Democratic candidate for auditor Doug Hoffer. While eight newspapers backed his opponent, Illuzzi, Hoffer didn’t receive a single media endorsement. As the liberal blog Green Mountain Daily pointed out, the Burlington Free Press and the Times Argus took their 2010 endorsements of Hoffer and threw them out the window for Illuzzi, who held a state Senate seat for 32 years.

While Hoffer is indignant about key newspapers endorsing his opponent, he said he has two important endorsements that Illuzzi doesn’t.

“My opponent has organizations like the Vermont Association of Realtors and Vermont Professional Archaeologists’ Association,” Hoffer said. “I’ll trade you 10 of those for one Sen. Bernie Sanders and another 10 for one Gov. Shumlin.”

So, how important are these endorsements?

We asked Vermont’s godfather of wonk, former Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis. His answer: It depends on the race and the endorsement.

“My view is that for congressional positions and governor, newspaper endorsements don’t matter much because the candidates are well known,” he said. “But in down ticket and legislative races where they aren’t as well known, I think it can make a difference.”

In the race for state auditor and treasurer, he thinks newspaper endorsements could have an effect. In the race for treasurer, for example, Pearce has seven newspaper endorsements to Wilton’s three.

The political endorsements Hoffer has, however, could give him a boost. According to Davis’ theory, the endorsements of current, top-tier politicians is more important than those of former office holders.

“If a sitting governor, House member or sitting senator endorses someone, I think that counts for something because it shows that the office holder will put some of his or her prestige on the line for the candidate,” he said. “While there’s a certain prestige factor with getting an ex-governor voting for you, once someone leaves office I’m not sure how much they can swing voters.

While Davis said union and organization endorsements could propel a campaign to victory, elections aren’t won based solely on support from these organizations.

“I think they matter more if an organization has a lot of members and is able to turn out members or are working hard on behalf of candidates,” Davis said. “The unions would certainly fall into that category, especially the NEA, the VSEA and the AFL-CIO.” The Professional Firefighters of Vermont is also known for turning out large numbers of volunteers, “and the candidates they endorse tend to win.”

But the real question is: Who’s endorsing whom? To answer that, VTDigger scoured candidate websites, social media handles and past press releases for any and all endorsements issued, as well as called the candidates and their campaign managers. And we got a bit of help from Seven Days’ Paul Heintz, thanks to his thorough rundown of newspaper endorsements.

On the Election Day eve, we hope you enjoy this hefty list of endorsements for 11 candidates running for five statewide offices.

GovernorGov. Peter Shumlin (D) Sen. Randy Brock (R)
Newspapers Burlington Free Press, St. Albans Messenger, Addison IndependentBennington BannerStowe ReporterWaterbury RecordRutland Herald, Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, Valley NewsVermont StandardManchester JournalCaledonian Record
PoliticiansBarre Mayor Thom Lauzon, R; Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, D; Montpelier Mayor John Hollar, D; Rutland Mayor Chistopher Louras, I; Newport Mayor Paul Monette, I; Winooski Mayor Michael O’Brien, D; and St. Albans Mayor Elizabeth Gamache.Former Gov. Jim Douglas, R; Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, R; Former Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, R.
Organizations and UnionsNational Rifle Association (NRA), Vermont Association of REALTORS, Vermont Professional
Archaeologists’ Association, Vermont State Employees Association, Vermont Troopers Association, United Professions AFT Vermont, Vermont AFL-CIO, Vermont Sheriff’s Association, Vermont NEA
Vermont Police Association
Lieutenant GovernorCassandra Gekas (P/D) Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (R)
NewspapersBurlington Free PressAddison Independent, Manchester JournalBarton ChronicleRutland Herald, Barre-Montpelier Times ArgusVermont Standard
PoliticiansGov. Peter Shumlin, former Gov. Phil Hoff, House Speaker Shap Smith, Sen. Anthony Pollina, Rep. Jean O’Sullivan, Rep. Diane Lanpher, Rep. Betty Nuovo, Rep. Kesha Ram, Rep. Jill Krowinski, Rep. Paul Poirier, Melinda MoultonNever actively sought out politician endorsements.
Organizations and UnionsVermont’s AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood, Democracy for America, Vermont Sierra Club, the Young Democrats of Vermont and Vermont State Employees AssociationNRA, Vermont Association of REALTORS, Associated General Contractors of Vermont, Vermont National Education Association, Professional Firefighters of Vermont
TreasurerBeth Pearce (D)Wendy Wilton (R)
NewspapersBurlington Free PressRutland Herald,Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, St. Albans Messenger, Addison Independent, Bennington BannerBarton Chronicle  Manchester JournalCaledonian RecordVermont Standard
PoliticiansGov. Peter Shumlin, former Gov. Howard Dean, former Gov. Madeleine Kunin, Sec. of the Agency of Administration Jeb Spaulding, Former Gov. Phil Hoff, and the chairs of both legislative Appropriations committees as well as the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.Former Gov. Jim Douglas, R; Rutland Mayor Chris Louras, I; Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon, R; Vermont Auditor Tom Salmon, R; former Rep. Richard Pembroke, D/R-Bennington.
Organizations and UnionsProfessional Firefighters of Vermont, Vermont State Employees Association, Vermont AFL-CIO United Professions AFT Vermont, Vermont National Education Association, and the Teamsters.NRA
AuditorDoug Hoffer (D/P)Vince Illuzzi (R)
NewspapersBurlington Free PressRutland HeraldBarre-Montpelier Times Argus, St. Albans Messenger, Bennington Banner,Manchester JournalCaledonian RecordVermont Standard
PoliticiansGov. Peter Shumlin, Sen. Bernie SandersSen. Peter Galbraith, D-Townshend; Sen. Dick Sears, D-North Bennington; Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Manchester; Sen. Bill Carris, D-Rutland County; Sen. Hinda Miller, D-Burlington; Sen. Richard Mazza, D-Colchester, former Auditor Elizabeth Ready, D.
Organizations and UnionsThe Vermont AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood, United Professions AFT Vermont, the Vermont Sierra ClubNRA, Vermont Association of Realtors, Vermont Professional Archaeologists’
Association, Vermont State Employees Association, Vermont National Education Association, Vermont Troopers Association, Professional Firefighters of Vermont, Northeast Kingdom Labor Council, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (local chapter 597), IDEW telephone company workers (local chapter 326) (outside), CWA Communications Workers of America (local chapter 1400)(inside the building).
Attorney GeneralBill Sorrell (D)Jack McMullen (R)
NewspapersBurlington Free PressRutland Herald, Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, Addison IndependentBennington Banner,Vermont Standard Manchester Journal
PoliticiansFormer Gov. Howard Dean, former Gov. Madeleine Kunin, Sen. Claire Ayer, Sen. Sara Kittell, Sen. Robert Hartwell, Sen. Harold Giard, and former Burlington Police Chief Tom TremblayFormer Gov. Jim Douglas, R; Auditor Tom Salmon, R; Minority Leader Rep. Don Turner, R-Milton; Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Brian Savage, R-Swanton; Sen. Peg Flory, R-Pittsford; Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland; Rep. Lynn Dickinson, R-St. Albans; Rep. Janice Peaslee, R-Guildhall; Rep. Bill Johnson, R/D-Canaan.
Organizations and UnionsPlanned Parenthood of Northern New Engaland Action Committee, Vermont Sierra Club, The Vermont Police Association
Ed Stanak (P): Candidate for Attorney General 



Organizations and Unions: Vermont State Employee’s Association, Vermont AFL-CIO, Vermont Sierra Club

Correction: Ed Stanak represented the Progressive Party in the 2012 election. He was not an Independent, as was reported. 

Andrew Stein


  1. Renée Carpenter :

    Where are the women?

  2. Karl Riemer :

    “Who’s endorsing who?”
    Somewhere a clutch of English teachers is shaking heads, clenching teeth and wishing they’d urged Mr. Stein to sell shoes.

    Does VTDigger have no copy editor?



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