In case you missed it: WDEV’s Mark Johnson interviews McMullen, GOP candidate for Vermont Attorney General

The Democratic primary candidates for Vermont Attorney General, TJ Donovan and Bill Sorrell, have dominated headlines over the last four weeks or so. But lately Jack McMullen, the GOP candidate for the General Election race, who won’t face off with the winner of the Democratic contest until the day after the primary Aug. 29, has been trying to get a little press attention, too.

McMullen was on Vermont Public Radio last month, and on WDEV’s Mark Johnson Show just this last week.

The former candidate for U.S. Senate is most famous for his trouncing in the 1998 Republican primary by Fred Tuttle, the aged star of the John O’Brien movie “Man With a Plan.” Back then, when dairy farming was more of a dominant force in the Vermont economy, Tuttle successfully painted McMullen as a millionaire carpetbagger from Massachusetts. In a debate on VPR, the Thetford farmer asked McMullen how many teats are on a cow. His answer: Six. (Four was the correct response.) The story went viral, and McMullen, who had hoped to challenge Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy that year, lost. Tuttle endorsed Leahy in the General Election.

In 2004, McMullen got his wish. He went head to head with Leahy and lost in a landslide. Leahy garnered 70 percent of the vote; about 24.7 percent of ballots cast went to McMullen.

Fourteen years after his first humiliating defeat and eight years after he lost to Leahy, McMullen is back in the political fray — this time with the hopes of taking over the biggest law firm in Vermont — the attorney general’s office.

In these two interviews with Mark Johnson, McMullen recounts his childhood in Staten Island and how his father’s illness (he had rheumatic fever as a child, and later a debilitating battle with heart disease) shaped his views on social programs (he says his family never sought public assistance). After he graduated from high school, McMullen worked for Admiral Hyman Rickover, the “father of the nuclear Navy,” and later went to Harvard Business School and Law School.

McMullen has been a successful lawyer and has licenses to practice in New York state, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. He now bills himself as a Burlington businessman. (McMullen is seeking a waiver from the Vermont bar to practice law in the Green Mountains.)

If he is elected in November, McMullen says his No. 1 priority will be to “reorientate” the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. He believes crime, especially drug-related crime, is the biggest issue facing Vermonters who “don’t feel comfortable” in their own homes. He described Bill Sorrell as an “appellate attorney” who is no longer on top of the issues that are most important to Vermonters.

Part 1 of McMullen’s interview with Mark Johnson.

Part 2 of McMullen’s interview with Mark Johnson.

Anne Galloway

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  • Justin Boland

    Who is sponsoring him? I’d be very interested in knowing who is bankrolling a “re-orientation” of the notoriously activist VT AG’s office.

  • I would assume that like before, he is bankrolling himself! He is definitely an outsider who wants to “save us poor Vermonters” from our own strong opinions and a democratic process! When will he ever learn that his is not the Vermont way.
    He reminds me of another presidential candidate now running for office and his running mate who want to get rid of all Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and let the teacher’s unions be damned!

  • Karl Riemer

    A measure of the decrepitude of the Vermont Republican Party is that this dim bulb gets to drop by the state every few years and run for office in the absence of any willing actual candidate. “No, Jack, we talked someone into running for that office this time around, but we have other lines on the ballot no Vermonter will touch. Would you like one of those?”

  • David Marsters

    Interesting that Jack McMullin is back in town. When he was running for Senate…not sure running is the correct term here….a mutual friend brought him by my house. It happened to be on an evening when some neighbors were gathered and our kids, maybe fifth grade and younger, we’re playing hard in the yard. One of their friends has Downs Syndrome and he was engaged in play along with the rest. Jack started talking about schools and how the best and the brightest get left behind because of the attention that the needier required. When my daughter and a friend came onto the porch and the Down Syndrome boy was still out playing the topic of whether their friend should be in the same class as they . I will never forget the astonished and dismayed look on these two girls’ faces as they tried to contemplate not having their friend in class with them. As I recall, and this was some time ago, Jack seemed perplexed and I ever more proud of these kids and of their teachers who continue the difficult task of honoring differences while giving our kids a stellar education.

  • Patricia Crocker

    David, I too, share your opinion that all children should be educated together. There is no “regular world” and “special world” and fully see the benefits of the inclusion model in education. However, as a parent with children in school, I have seen situations where it was not done correctly and that the other children in the classroom suffered. For example, one of my son’s friends was in a classroom where there was a child with severe behavioral difficulties. The tone of the classroom was always tense and my son’s friend was fearful all the time. He hated school and fell behind in learning. I have also witnessed a lack of support for children whose abilities are higher than the rest of the class. These children become easily bored because they are forced to sit and regurgitate what they already know. So, I think that was what Jack was responding to. I have met Jack several times and have found him to be very thoughtful. I am sure that he is aware of special education legislation and fully supports effective education inclusion. I was very impressed with his combination of business and law experience, along with a very humble upbringing. He would bring a common sense approach to the office of AG. I am tired of the current state of affairs where the AG’s office has been trying to legislate, instead of advise the Governor. This has cost the VT taxpayer millions of dollars in lawsuits or legislation that has been found to be unconstitutional. One last comment, do you forget that Bernie sanders ran for office five times before being elected? Your assertion that he has lost several elections and that this somehow disqualifies him from having any chance is misinformed.

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