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.
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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