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Garrett Graff Registers As Candidate, But Says Still Undecided On Bid For Lt. Gov.

Former political journalist Garrett Graff has registered as a candidate for lieutenant governor with the Vermont Secretary of State. But the 34-year-old Montpelier native, who returned to his home state last month after living outside Vermont for 10 years, says his political plans are still up in the air.

“It literally means nothing,” Graff said Monday of his statement of candidacy.

Graff filed the paperwork two days before Christmas. One line on the form asks if a registrant is “running in this election?” Graff answered, “I don’t know.”

“I’m doing exactly what I said I was doing last time I spoke with (Vermont Public Radio) – exploring the race,” Graff said.

Graff said he filed the paperwork last week because he’d exceeded $500 in campaign expenditures, the threshold at which prospective candidates are required to register. Graff said he’d incurred the expenses as part of exploratory operations that have included “going around and meeting with people and talking about the political landscape, and sort of making sure I understand the state and the policy landscape in 2016.”

Graff announced in November that he was leaving his job as editor of Politico Magazine in Washington, D.C., and moving to Vermont. He said Monday that he plans to make a decision about a run for lieutenant governor by mid-January.

Should he decide to do so, Graff could face some immediate legal challenges to his candidacy. The Vermont Constitution includes residency requirements for candidates for lieutenant governor, and Secretary of State Jim Condos has said he doesn't think Graff meets them.

The Vermont Constitution states that a candidate is not eligible until "he shall have resided in this State four years next preceding the day of the election."

"'Next preceding the day of the election' we assume – and the Attorney General agrees with me – that it means you have to reside in the state four years preceding the day of the election," Condos told VPR last month.

If Graff is chooses to run for lieutenant governor, and is permitted to do so, he would face Burlington Rep. Kesha Ram, Chittenden senator David Zuckerman, and Marlboro businessman Brandon Riker in a Democratic primary. On the Republican side, former senator and state auditor Randy Brock has announced his intent to run.

Louis Meyers, a physician from Rutland, is running as an independent.

This post was edited at 3:57 p.m. on 12/28/15

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