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Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman Confirms The Speculation: He's Running For Governor In 2020

Close up of Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman standing outside the Vermont Statehouse
Elodie Reed
Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman told reporters last week he'd soon announce if he had decided to run for governor or not.

Last week Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman said he'd made a decision about running for governor, and now that decision has been confirmed: He's going for it.

Zuckerman, a Progressive/Democrat, told VPR he will formally announce his candidacy Monday morning at a press conference in Montpelier. 

The decision sets up Zuckerman to face former Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. On the Republican side, John Klar announced his candidancy for governor in October, but Gov. Phil Scott has not yet announced any re-election plans.

Zuckerman's decision also has impacts on the 2020 lieutenant governor's race, as a number of people — including Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe, Assistant Attorney General Molly Gray and former gubernatorial candidate Brenda Siegel — said they intended to run for that position should Zuckerman enter the governor's race. 

Listen to audio from a conversation with Zuckerman about his decision above; below are excerpts from the interview.

A thin grey line.

The biggest factor in his decision to run for governor:

"If you listen to young people today — and on Friday, there were 40 of them in my office for my 'Coffee with Consistutents,' and they were saying: 'We're afraid for our future.' And when the reports say we have handfuls of years left to reverse this trend, I sit there and go: 'I gotta try.'  

"Two years to wait because it's going to be more opportune or I might have a better chance of winning — you know what, I've got to try. And if I win, we can do something about it. And if I lose, I think we've expanded the conversation in a way that really strengthens the Legislature's hand on these issues."

Why he doesn't think Scott should be re-elected:

"I think a lot of the struggles Vermonters are facing have not been improved over these last three years. I think the urgency of our climate crisis has not really been felt in the political process, and that starts at the top.

"And we have comments from the governor over the years of caring for our most vulnerable, and in just these last few months we've seen vulnerable seniors and vulnerable, particularly, women in our prison system not protected. And people right now are really anxious and we need to do more to address that anxiety, from economics to social injustices, and especially also the climate crisis. ...

"I have tremendous respect for the governor — I think he's [a] very welcoming individual, we have a cordial relationship. But the actions are a little bit more reactionary to the times than they are visionary for the future."

His plan to fund initiatives:

"I would argue that temporarily wealthier Vermonters, who just received a multi-hundred million dollar tax break under the Trump tax cuts, could afford to do a three- to five-year temporary marginal tax surcharge. And when I say wealthier Vermonters, we're talking about folks who are making over a few hundred thousand dollars a year.

"It's $1,000 or $3,000 more out of their pockets, but in aggregate that's going to come up with many millions more dollars so that we can invest in weatherization, which is jobs for Vermonters and savings for working-class Vermonters. We can invest in grants for working-class people to put solar panels on their homes, which is also jobs for Vermonters and a reduced cost for Vermonters with their annual bills. We can have grants for people to be able to buy electric or hybrid vehicles to reduce their costs, so again working Vermonters can see a lowering of their expenses, not increased costs.

"And we can invest in broadband so that fewer people have to drive as far to get to work all the time — some people could work from their homes. And if you don't think that's also going to attract families and young people to the state who see Vermont investing in the economy of the future, then I'm not sure who you're talking to. But if you look around the Northeast, there are a lot of people who want to live in a place that is thinking about the future, so it'd also be drawing people in to re-populate our rural areas. So I think when we talk about the climate crisis, we can also talk about economic opportunity and investing in our future."

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