Trail Tidbits: Poll shows Sorrell would beat Donovan two-to-one; Sorrell wins senatorial endorsements; Sears backs Donovan

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell

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.

Read the poll.

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.

~Anne Galloway

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.

~Anne Galloway

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.

TJ Donovan is running against incumbent Attorney General Bill Sorrell in the Democratic primary. VTD Photo/Taylor Dobbs

TJ Donovan is running against incumbent Attorney General Bill Sorrell in the Democratic primary. VTD Photo/Taylor Dobbs

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

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  • Bob Stannard

    People should be asking why is the Democratic Party taking sides in a primary election?

    • Karl Riemer

      They aren’t. Party endorsement is acknowledgment that a candidate is a genuine representative of the party. That translates to support in a general election, not in a primary among endorsed candidates. Sorrel will also be endorsed by the party.

      • Karl Riemer

        Sorry: the correct spelling is Sorrell.

  • Eric Davis

    Two comments on the AG poll:

    1. Early-season primary polls are more a test of name recognition than anything else. Actual primary results can be very different from polls taken several months before. Two years ago, Deb Markowitz was leading the Democratic gubernatorial primary in polls taken in June.

    2. 65.6% of those polled said they were “very likely” to vote in the August primary election. This number seems very high to me. Based on previous years’ primary turnouts, I would guess that 30,000 to 40,000 people will vote in this year’s Democratic primary and 25,000 in the Republican primary. That would represent a turnout of well under 20% of the state’s registered voters. Even if Donovan and Sorrell, plus competitive legislative primaries in some districts, could boost Democratic turnout to 50,000, we’re still looking at a relatively low-turnout election.

  • Stan Hopson

    Why didn’t WCAX poll Shumlin/Brock?

  • Luci Stephens

    Mr. Donovan made a very clear statement that he does not support law enforcement’s request for warrant-less searches of the prescription drug database- he wants investigators to obtain a warrant. I think that is probably a very solid, rational position for a prosecutor.

    Mr Sears was a strong advocate for warrant-less searches, saying it was a tool very much needed by investigators. He made his opposition to requiring warrant acquisition very clear, pointing to it as a great roadblock to prescription drug abuse investigations. Now he is giving his endorsement to Mr. Donovan, stating that Mr. Donovan ‘has his priorities straight’ in respect to the prescription drug abuse problem.

    This may be an example of speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth, having cake and eating it too, or all that and more. The fun just never ends….

    • Christian Noll

      Very accute observation Luci.

      I too noticed this. I also spoke to TJ personally about the police trying to circumvent the fourth amendment by misinforming the public about “Epidemics” with this proposed legislation. He seemed unaware that the police were actually trying to “Warrantlessly” access federally protected HIPPA information without having to establish Probably Cause. I did my best to make sure he understood this. He agreed that the police should have a warrant for this.

      If you look at the Vermont Crime On-Line lists of drug offenses you’ll see that the lion’s share (by far & wide) is Marijuana related. Its like 2,200 Marijuana offenses out of 2,450 total for 2009.

      Maybe the police are trying to get ready for the decrimalization of Marajuana by ramping up legislation for more “Drug Wars?”

      “Fighting Crime” is big busines and if we have less crime, we’ll have less job security for juges, prosecutors, police and correctional staff.

      We need to feed the system from the back end and not the front end.

      Its like Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling said, We need “Back-based preventative” and NOT “Front-based responsive.”

      I’m not sure what to make of Mr. Sears.

  • Andi Rosin

    While I am tempted to support Donovan, Sen. Sears endorsement turns me off. I attended several Senate votes/debates this past session and saw that Sears is just a big bully. I cant stand him and his endorsement is almost enough to turn me off. But I do think that maybe it is time for someone new, so most likely I will vote for Donovan in the primary. Personally, I think it is time to get rid of Sen. Sears.

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