The Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont released a list of candidates it will endorse in the November election Tuesday, with a few surprises.
The union, which generally leans toward Democrats, endorsed two Republicans — Vince Illuzzi for auditor and incumbent Phil Scott for lieutenant governor. It also gave a nod to TJ Donovan in the attorney general primary against incumbent Bill Sorrell.
The firefighters endorsed Democratic incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin. Two years ago, they endorsed Republican Brian Dubie in the gubernatorial race. Shumlin is running against Sen. Randy Brock.
In the auditor’s race, Illuzzi, an independent Republican, and Doug Hoffer, a Democratic and Progressive who works as a policy analyst, are both seeking endorsements from labor unions.
Eric Davis, a retired political science professor at Middlebury College, said the firefighters union often picks winners.
“They’re a very politically savvy group,” Davis said.
Other than their endorsement of Dubie, who lost to Shumlin in the governor’s race two years ago, the firefighters often serve as a bellwether. The group endorsed Gov. Jim Douglas when he ran for re-election and won as well as Congressman Peter Welch when he beat out Republican Martha Rainville.
Scott, the other Republican who got the firefighters’ endorsement, issued a statement Wednesday saying he was “honored” to receive the endorsement. Scott is running against Democrat Cassandra Gekas, a former health care lobbyist for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.
Scott serves as co-chair with Matt Vinci, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont, on the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.
The firefighters also endorsed incumbent Democratic Treasurer Beth Pearce over Republican Wendy Wilton, treasurer of the City of Rutland.
Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat who is running unopposed, also got their endorsement.
TJ Donovan also received the endorsement from the Vermont Building and Construction Trades Council.