The primary elections are scheduled for August 14 with the general election falling on November 6. This year, both Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch need to run for re-election.
These offices are among the most important political positions that Vermonters have the opportunity to vote on.
As a small state, Vermont needs strong and diligent hands representing it in Washington D.C. A strong field of candidates and an active debate would serve all voters well. There is nothing like a closely contested election to keep our politicians focused on their constituents.
This article will take a quick look at the candidates that have registered to run for Vermont’s Senate and House seats, beginning with the Senate. A strong field of candidates it is not!
Vermont’s 2018 Senate Race
Four Republican candidates, two Democrats and one Independent have registered to run in the Vermont primary for US Senate. With the sole exception of Bernie Sanders, none of these competing candidates have any prior political experience other than running for office unsuccessfully in the past. Two of these candidates don’t even live in Vermont!
One Democratic contender for Bernie Sanders seat is a woman named Folasade Adeluola. According to her Federal Election Commission filing, her primary address is some town in Indiana. LinkedIn lists her current job as some kind of fashion items importer. The second Democratic challenger is Jon Svitavsky, a social worker and homeless shelter advocate.
One of the Republican candidates is H. Brooke Paige. Mr. Paige is a Vermont history buff and has run for various Vermont offices in the past. This year, in addition to the Senate, Mr. Paige is running for House of Representatives, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, State Auditor and Attorney General.
Another Republican candidate for Senate is Jasdeep Pannu, an Essex Junction lawyer. His “Pannu for the People” website outlines his platform, which includes “crayons not computers” as a key education plank and “ end prohibition round 2” as his illegal drug program.
Lawrence Zupan, a real estate agent, is also seeking the Republican Party nomination to run for the Senate. Like Mr. Pannu, Mr. Zupan has no prior political experience. His website states his goals as “lubricate the wheels of progress, reward risk and enterprise, and studiously avoid placing obstacles in the way of greatness”. His slogan is “No More Slogans”.
The last Republican Senate candidate is Roque “Rocky” de la Fuenta. He lives in San Diego, California and is also running for senate in 6 other states.
The Independent Candidate is Bruce Busa, who has a handful of YouTube spots that can be reviewed.
With two exceptions, all of these candidates have filed with the Federal Election Commission (for some reason, Lawrence Zupan and Bruce Busa appear not to have filed yet). Of all these candidates, only Bernie Sanders has reported any campaign contributions ($7.79 million). While the filing deadlines have not yet been met, it would appear there is little or no money being invested in Bernie’s political rivals.
Vermont’s 2018 Congressional Race
Two Democrats are challenging Peter Welch for the Democratic nomination and two Republicans have registered as well. Cris Ericson had registered to run as an Independent.
Both of the Democratic contenders describe themselves as “Progressive” Democrats and both think Peter Welch is an “establishment” Democrat who should be replaced. Dan Freilich, a doctor with a long career as a Navy officer, is particularly focused on government corruption, campaign finance and the influence of special interests through PAC’s. Benjamin Mitchell, a long term educator, describes himself as a “Democratic Socialist” and supports a broad progressive political agenda.
The Republican candidates for Congress are H. Brooke Paige (see above) and Anya Tynio. It would appear that Ms. Tynio has not yet put together a campaign website. Neither of these two candidates has yet filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Cris Ericson, the Independent candidate, has run for office several times in the past as a Republican, a Democrat, a United States Marijuana Party member and an Independent.
All three Democratic candidates have filed with the Federal Election Commission. Peter Welch is reporting $561,749 of donations, Dan Freilich $53,076 and Benjamin Mitchell zero.
Vermont’s Senate Race Looks Uncontested: Given Bernie Sander’s position on the political spectrum, there would appear to be room for an established Democratic Party challenger for his seat. It is understandable that no experienced Democrat chose to do this, but it is hard to understand why the Republican Party failed to post an experienced contender. They must view his seat as unassailable.
Vermont’s House Race Looks Like Democrats vs. Democrats: The real contest for Peter Welch’s seat in Congress is between the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and the traditional wing. As with the Senate race, the Republican Party looks to have no real contenders for the Congressional contest.
The Money Is With The Incumbents: Both incumbents have war chests ready for the 2018 campaign. The only contender with any reported campaign funding is Dan Freilich, and Peter Welch has already raised 10 times more than Mr. Freilich.
Open Seats Are Coming: Peter Welch is 71 and Bernie Sanders is 77. At some point in the not too distant future, these gentlemen will likely retire. Once any of these seats opens up, it should be easier for competing candidates from any political party to raise money and mount a serious bid.