People & Places

Vermont Democrats hire Jim Dandeneau as new interim executive director

The Vermont Democratic Party has hired a new interim executive director. Jim Dandeneau, who previously worked as the party’s House Campaign Director, will take over later this month. 

The hiring was confirmed by Rep. Matt Birong, D-Vergennes, who said he asked Dandeneau to apply after the last executive director abruptly resigned last month.

“He’s incredibly energetic. He’s incredibly dedicated. He isn’t afraid to think outside the box,” Birong said. “And he just kind of went at it with a belly fire that I just haven’t seen with the previous (executive directors).”

The party’s staff has been beleaguered by turnover and turmoil in recent years. Its last executive director, Claire Cummings, lasted for exactly one year in the role. Her predecessor, Scott McNeil, stepped down after less than two years after another staffer quit and released an open letter lambasting the party’s  “toxic environment.” The party was also rocked by an embezzlement scandal in 2019.

After a spate of short-lived executive directors hired from out of state, Birong said he sees “stability” with Dandeneau, who has worked in and around Vermont politics for several years.

“Jim has proven he can do the work,” Birong said.

Dandeneau was Sue Minter’s field director in the 2016 gubernatorial race, when the former transportation secretary won the Democratic primary but lost to then-Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, in the general election. Dandeneau led the Democrats’ campaign to recruit candidates for the Vermont House in 2018, the year the party picked up 12 seats to clinch a veto-proof supermajority with Progressives in the chamber.

Democratic Party chair Anne Lezak said she could not talk about the party’s hire until a formal announcement Monday.

Dandeneau said he could not discuss the matter until he leaves his current job as a lobbyist for Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC. His first day with the party is May 23.

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Lola Duffort

About Lola

Lola Duffort is a political reporter for VTDigger, covering Vermont state government, the congressional delegation and elections. She previously covered education for Digger, the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire and the Rutland Herald. She has also freelanced for the Miami Herald in Florida, where she grew up. She is a graduate of McGill University in Canada.

Email: [email protected]

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