Zuckerman will run for governor; announcement coming next week

David Zuckerman
Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman discusses his 2020 campaign plans at the Statehouse on Tuesday. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

Lt. Gov David Zuckerman has decided to run for governor in 2020 and is expected to formally announce his candidacy next week.

Zuckerman has been seriously considering running against Republican Gov. Phil Scott for months. Two Democratic insiders familiar with his announcement plans said this week that he has decided to run for Vermont’s top political office. 

The lieutenant governor, a Progressive/Democrat, will announce his candidacy on Jan. 13, a few days after the beginning of the 2020 legislative session, and Scott’s State of the State address on Jan. 9. 

Zuckerman declined to say Tuesday whether he will run, but said that he has finalized his plans for 2020, and will be announcing them next Monday.  

“A decision just has to be made and so I have made that decision,” Zuckerman said. “Monday will come.” 

In an interview Tuesday, Zuckerman said he didn’t want the announcement of his 2020 plans to distract from the first week of the legislative session. 

“Most people I think would like the focus to be on the policies that are impacting their day-to-day lives, and so I certainly didn’t want it to be this week,” he said.   

Zuckerman, a disciple of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, will join former education secretary Rebecca Holcombe, who announced she was running for governor in July, as the only two candidates in the Democratic field. 

Holcombe, for her part, says she has already raised $250,000 for her campaign and has criticized Scott for falling short on his pledge to make Vermont affordable.

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For months, Zuckerman said he had been undecided on whether he would run for governor, as he weighed family responsibility and the future of his business, Full Moon Farm, with his desire to take on Scott. 

With the election this November, Zuckerman was running out of time to mount a serious challenge against the popular incumbent governor.

Scott has not yet formally announced his reelection bid, but has already started fundraising. He sent a letter to top donors in November, asking for financial support and touting his accomplishments in office.

Phil Scott
Gov. Phil Scott says he won’t announce his plans for 2020 until after this year’s legislative session. Photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

In the last two months, Zuckerman has been able to analyze Vermont Democratic Party polling, gauging his head-to-head favorability against Scott, as well as what issues are most important to Vermonters. Those results have been closely guarded by the party.

Attorney General TJ Donovan has also been thinking about running for governor, and has been in direct communication with Zuckerman about possible bids — the two Chittenden County heavyweights have been reluctant to challenge the other in a primary contest. 

Donovan said Tuesday he has yet to make a final decision but will be deciding imminently. However, people close to the Democratic Party have said they believe Donovan has cooled off on the idea of running for governor.

“No decision yet. Still got a lot on my plate as attorney general,” Donovan said. “I know I’ve got to make a decision one way or another in the next couple weeks, and I will.” 

He declined to detail discussions he has had with Zuckerman. 

“If he runs I’ll let him make that announcement,” he said, “but he’d make a good candidate.” 

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Kit Norton

About Kit

Kit Norton is the general assignment reporter at VTDigger. He is originally from eastern Vermont and graduated from Emerson College in 2017 with a degree in journalism. In 2016, he was a recipient of The Society of Environmental Journalists' Emerging Environmental Journalist award. Kit has worked at PRI's weekly radio environmental program, Living on Earth, and has written for the online news site Truthout.

Email: [email protected]

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Pat Cooke

Lord help us if this guy is ever elected Governor!

Gary Murdock

Nanny state command and control of every aspect of our lives, behavior modification through punitive taxation and regulation, civil and economic liberties crushed in the name of climate action, wealth transfer at a level never imagined…God help us. For everyone outside of Chittenden County, its time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. Talk to friends and neighbors, most of which are completely tuned out of politics, and make them understand how destructive a Governor Zuckerman teamed up with a progressive super majority would be for the state..

Joyce Dicianna

Such great news….if it’s true. Please throw you hat in the ring, David. We need you!

sandra bettis

Thank you!!!!!

Tom Wheaton

Vermonters kind of laugh at, but accept, a Zuckerman as Lt. Gov because he does no harm in a powerless position. But as Governor? No way. There is no way he beats Phil Scott. He is too scary for moderate dems and Phil Scott has a very high approval rating. Its a funny death march, because he has to then give up the Lt. Gov chair. I don’t understand the calculus for him. Why not wait it out another 2 years and run for House or Senate with Leahy likely retiring?

Ken Dean

David Zuckerman will make an excellent candidate for Governor. He has a good heart, good soul, good spirit and has served Vermont well for decades. He knows how to listen and make beautiful things grow. Historically– Vermont Farmers make superb Governors. George Aiken and David Zuckerman are in that tradition.

Bruce S. Post

1. Perhaps I am getting a tad curmudgeonly, but I have difficulty with the description that David is a “disciple” of Bernie Sanders. Bernie certainly is no god … nor even god-like. While David may be a long-time confidant, supporter, advisor and booster of Sanders, I think he has his own agency and is not some “moonie” devoid of thought.

2. And this: “Zuckerman was running out of time to mount a serious challenge against the popular incumbent …” Can’t we put some limits on campaign durations here in Vermont? Would it be unconstitutional? The endless campaign has infected our national politics, and I fear it is happening here, too. Certainly, long campaigns have spawned a cottage industry of consultants and advertising — with lavish spending, but I doubt Jane and John Q. Public are better off. They just tune out.

Jim Christiansen

Stop speculating about TJ running. He doesn’t have his mother’s permission yet.

Glenn Thompson

Picturing the entire state government from the top on down being controlled by Progressives is like watching a turd circle the toilet bowl.


This is the best opportunity we’ve had to send him back to the farm! Go for it David

Craig Powers

A unrepentant Progressive masquerading as a Democrat to win elections. No thanks!!!

Jenny Kingsbury

Not sure what’s most troubling, the thought of a socialist in the governor’s office or Ms. Holcombe who blames a lack of affordability on the current occupant of the office.

Tax-and-spend policies, decline in good-paying jobs, regulations and infrastructure deficiencies over decades have created this problem.

Boots Wardinski

as a democrat or progressive?

Cynthia Weed, former rep.

Great news!

William Olenick

Toast but don’t know it…

MD Bridges

Screwed if DZ becomes guv. You thought there was an exodus before?

John Briggs

Zuckerman is reasonable.
It is bizarre to label him a Sanders “disciple,” as though he bows when the master speaks. Explain, Digger.
Bernie deserves credit for his longggg consistency on issues of pay, etc., and Z. surely admires that, but he is his own man.
For one thing, he grows vegetables. Bernie hasn’t touched the soil, other than that intrinsic to life in D.C., for decades.
Also, Bernie begins each day by gazing into the mirror and asking who is the most emphatic in the realm, while Z. plants more radishes and onions.
However, a caution. I’ve heard that Z reads books, and that may be disqualifying for the top job in Montpelier.

Chris Benoit

Zuckerman knows that he can’t beat Phil Scott. This is about positioning himself for the next Senate or Congressional seat that opens up in Washington. T.J. is going to have some competition.

Irene Stewart

I nearly passed out when I saw the headline here in VT Digger – that Zuckerman thinks that any Vermonter has a dime left in their pockets to vote for a tax lover and big time spender. OMG! It is truly unbelievable that he believes that Vermonters are going to vote for big time spending anymore, not after the horrific years of the Shumlin administration. How will we ever forget those years, and the taxes that Shumlin and the Democrats/Progressives (these days – one in the same) voted in and we have to pay year after year. No, after reading the hundreds and hundreds of comments in VT Digger over the past couple of years, Vermonters are fed up with progressives/Democrats. They have these utopian ideas that are not affordable, with only 322,000 taxpayers in this state, and losing 700 taxpayers in just the last year.
Maybe Sanders would choose Zuckerman as his running mate if Sanders won the nomination of the party he does not belong to. Possibility – one never knows.

David Van Deusen

David Zuckerman has been a friend of working class Vermonters & unions throughout his political career. Glad to see him put his hat in the ring. I look forward to having David meet with the VT AFL-CIO leadership to discuss the future of Vermont.

Marjorie Kramer

Great news. How exciting! Maybe we can get parental leave and better minimum wage and better health care. Love it.

Patrick Cashman

Has the Zuckster paid back the citizens of Vermont for his history of fraudulent reimbursement claims? https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/vermont-legislators-admit-to-cheating-the-system-are-they-justified/Content?oid=2139396

Al Alessi

For folks like Irene, complaining about how bad it is here in VT, check out this map of county-by-county poverty in the US, and then look at some of the places you might be dreaming about. We’re doing quite well, thank you: https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/interactive/2014-2018-poverty-rate-by-county.html

jeffrey green

I’d love to know what the bond/credit rating agencies will think if Progressive/Socialist Mr. Zuckerman wins…or even just the threat that he runs – and could win. Vermont just got it’s rating cut down a notch a while ago. It is still has a good rank…for now. Ratings firms ask tough questions….the first might be what is a pony tailed, organic farmer doing running a $6.1 billion – (and rising) – budget….with an aging population, and stagnent (declining?) population…who already are way over taxed. Ratings firms are also very well aware of the unfunded $4.5 billion needed to pay for Union retirees. …..And, oh, Mr. Zuckerman, credit rating firms don’t give a darn about Climate Change, plastic bags, sustainability, solar or fossil fuel…. I’d avoid that if you meet with them someday 🙂 It is ALL numbers, and they aren’t very positive for VT, in the longer run.

Barry Kade

David, where do I send my contribution? I am thrilled with the possibility of having a governor who is both practical about spending and raising tax dollars, and has a proven concern for people.

David Usher

God forbid!

Rama Schneider

Let me join with others who say the use of the phrase “Zuckerman, a disciple of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, …” is beyond the pale when it comes to journalistic failure. Kit should know better, but whoever did the “editing” is even worse because they should have known better from experience.


Troy Morton

There is a trust factor.

He submitted for expense reimbursement for miles he didn’t drive. He rode, as a passenger.

The rank and file state worker could or would be fired for submitting a false claim.

This is akin to Senator Sanders last re-election bid in 2018. He said he would represent VT if elected.

Sanders won his seat, but spends his days jetting to speaking engagements.

If Mr Zuckerman is Bernie , version 2.0, we are in trouble.

We can’t afford another entitled politician who puts their personal gain above their constituents needs.

Taxpayers are tapped due to years of failed social engineering experiments courtesy of a tax and spend legislature.

Our current governor is fiscally responsible.

Just because Governor Scott is a member of the “wrong” party is a piss poor reason to elect an individual who emulates Senator no-show Sanders.

Bill Coleman

This is great news. Lieutenant Governor Zuckerman consistently shows the clearest comprehension of what issues are essential to carry Vermont forward towards addressing the health and vitality of all who reside here. Given his hard earned and very well deserved high favorability ratings it seems very likely that he will be successful in replacing Phil Scott this fall. L.G. David Zuckerman readily energizes a large base of support that will propel his campaign rapidly into the forefront of our thinking as the campaign progresses.

Irene Stewart

Since Al Alessi, named me in a previous comment here, this is my response. If you live in Woodstock, Vermont, poverty is not an issue. If you get out of Woodstock, drive around other counties, and when you see 18 % poverty rate, 17% in another (I only checked a couple) I think those people living BELOW the poverty level might not be having a very good, healthy, working lifestyle, a happy one, like in Woodstock. I feel that the budget in Vermont is bloated, it needs to be cut, and not one more tax must be imposed on the residents of Vermont. Maybe in Woodstock they will welcome higher taxes – but leave all other Vermonters alone. When 700 Vermonters leave in one year, there is a big problem here.

Martin Dole

“Zuckerman’s record includes sponsoring and voting for hundreds of millions of dollars in tax increases on Vermonters, including a new 7.8% payroll tax (H.721 of 1998), income tax hikes on working Vermonters in the middle of the Great Recession (H.177 of 2009), a carbon tax, and many more.”

Martin Dole

“As Lieutenant Governor, Zuckerman’s office budget grew by an astonishing rate of 30 percent over just two years, at a time when Vermonters paychecks barely budged. While state government struggles with persistent budget gaps, David Zuckerman expects struggling Vermonters to pick up the tab so he can live beyond his means.”

Martin Dole

“And as Vermont’s unfunded liabilities surpass $4.5 billion, Zuckerman is insistent in his support for divesting the state’s pension funds from fossil fuels, which experts (including Democratic Treasurer Pearce) say could cost millions more, further exacerbating our delicate financial situation that has resulted in multiple recent credit rating downgrades.”

Paul Richards

“Holcombe…has criticized Scott for falling short on his pledge to make Vermont affordable.” We have chambers full of democrats (or whatever they are calling themselves now) obstructing every good thing Governor Scott is trying to do and assaulting the taxpayers on every turn and she has the audacity to call out the governor for failing to make VT Affordable? Yeah, let’s vote for her.

Spoon Agave

Norton and Landen refer to Zuckerman as a disciple of Sanders. Dictionary says a disciple is an adherent of a master. Why do these reporters consider Sanders a Master? Of what? Yes, Sanders has been the most popular and successful politician in Vermont history. At this point he is also a strong contender for President of the United States. Does this qualify him as a Master…of what? Master Politician? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe more yes than no given his success. Is he as good as FDR? George Aiken? Dwight Eisenhower? Maybe. But I can’t find any definition of a Master Politician, or a political master. Hard to say what the reporters mean. Probably coining their own definition of a disciple to mean a campaign worker. “Disciple” usually implies some sort of concept and very commonly these words are misunderstood and misused. People often express strong opinions about a concept, or body of concepts, and then stare back blank and silent when asked to explain their meaning.

Les Myers

Just what we need, yet another do nothing legislator to be re-elected. Hasn’t he already done enough to tax and spend this state into oblivion ? He’ll not get my vote.

Just as 75% of the other do nothing legislators in this state, Rep & Dem. included.

It’s Way Overdue for a house cleaning

Douglas Shane

It’s been a long time coming for Zuckerman’s candidacy. I imagine that Rebecca Holcombe will be his running mate.

Sorry Republicans. (I hear that New Hampshire is taking in refugees…)

Daniel Provost

Can you hear the sucking sound of even more people leaving the State. Does everyone not understand that the people that populate the state house do have a proportional effect on whether people will move and work in the State. Who thinks that more people are going to be likely to come to the State if the same people making the same decisions are in Montpelier. Fixing problems requires a change of course and not traveling down the same path. Please tell me anything with great purpose has been done in Montpelier lately that has really changed your life. I’m not talking about something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy that they at least voted on something. I’m talking about something really important not just blowing smoke. That’s what I thought, yup nothing. Shameful. Please start fixing the problems Vermonters are facing every day and not fight with each other about who the most important and powerful person in Montpelier is. Thank you for your time

David Dempsey

In April 2019, David Zuckerman tweeted his endorsement of Bernie Sanders for president, saying “He was my inspiration to engage in politics as a cynical college student 26 years ago. As the national leader for progressive issues for decades I believe he is well positioned to lead our nation.” The word cynical as an adjective means a person contemptuously distrustful of human nature based on the belief that human nature is motivated only by self-interest. A cynical person is bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuos, or pessimistic. A synonym for cynical is misanthropic, which means having or showing a deep distrust of human beings and their motives. In my opinion, Bernie Sanders fits the definition of cynic perfectly. David Zuckerman touts Bernie as his inspiration. Vermont does not want or need a cynical governor.

Jeff Dardozzi

I am sure DZ has found the revenue stream in politics pays far better than farming.

Robert Kenney

“David Zuckerman has been a friend of working class Vermonters” How? By taxing and regulation?


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