Racine ponders 2006 campaign for U.S. Senate
MONTPELIER — Former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine said Wednesday he is considering whether to run for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., in 2006.
"For most of us in politics the idea of a Senate seat is intriguing," said Racine, who was a Democratic state senator and candidate for governor. "I can't rule it out."
Racine added that it is still very early and he has not made up his mind what office he will seek in 2006, if he runs at all. Entering the race for the U.S. House is also a possibility, he said, but he has not begun working on a campaign for any seat, Racine said.
Democrats and Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., who is also seeking the Senate seat, have stressed the damage that liberal candidates could do to their causes by running against each other in the House and Senate races and splitting the vote.
But it may be difficult to prevent such three-way races in Vermont where the political parties have less control than in other states, potential candidates and political operatives said.
"In the end I think there is going to be a Democrat in that race," Racine said. "The question is, is it going to be a strong candidate?"
Jeff Weaver, Sanders' chief of staff, said there is no agreement between Sanders and the Democrats. There is an understanding by both sides that three-way races benefit Republican candidates, he said.
"It's not like there is a deal signed in blood," Weaver said.
"I think there is a mutual recognition that we don't want to create three-way races in these federal races," he said. "The Republicans want three-way races in all of these races so they have a shot at winning."
Sanders has said he will support the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House.
"A three-way race gives a significant edge to the Republican," said Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch, D-Windsor. "If the objective is to make sure that seat is not Republican, there is an immense amount of importance in making that a two-way race instead of a three-way race."
But, Welch noted, a candidate only has to get 500 signatures to get on the ballot.
"Anyone who wants to get on the ballot absolutely can get on the ballot," he said.
State GOP chairman Jim Barnett disputes the notion that a Democrat would draw more voters from Sanders than from the Republican candidate.
"There are arguments on both sides," Barnett said.
Barnett called Racine "a credible candidate" who could draw Democrats "who otherwise might hold their nose and vote for a Republican over Bernie."
It will be up to prospective candidates whether there is a primary for the Republican nomination, Barnett said.
Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie and Burlington businessman Richard Tarrant are potential GOP candidates for Senate. Republican Greg Parke, a retired military pilot, announced he would seek the seat even before Jeffords said he would not run again.
"Doug (Racine) is among a number of prominent names who is mentioned for the various open spots" said Peter Mallary, chairman of the Vermont Democrats. "We have had some conversations and I know he is having conversations with other people."
Louis Porter can be reached at email@example.com.MORE IN NewsPORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Sen. Full Story
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