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At Burlington City Hall, Dean Re-Endorses Sorrell for Attorney General 

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In case you missed it, former governor Howard Dean totes backs Attorney General Bill Sorrell's bid for reelection.

Back in March, Dean told Seven Days' Andy Bromage he's, "all in for Bill."

"I'm going to campaign for him. I'm going to raise money for him," Dean said of his former Secretary of Administration, who he appointed to the AG post in 1997. "I don't see any reason to change horses."

But earlier this month, for a story about former governor Phil Hoff endorsing Sorrell's opponent — Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan — the AG apparently told Burlington Free Press reporter Terri Hallenbeck that Dean hadn't yet endorsed him. Two days later, a postcard featuring Dean endorsing him (see below) landed in mailboxes around the state.

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Then last week, the Sorrell campaign announced the big news: Dean planned to "publicly endorse" Sorrell on the steps of Burlington City Hall.

Today, at long last, the day came.

"I am again reiterating my very vigorous support for Bill Sorrell for attorney general," Dean re-announced. "I think Bill really understands this job. He loves this job. He's been in it for a long time. He's very, very good at it."

Dean also took a shot at Donovan, saying, "I think there are some in this race that don't understand what this job is about. It is not about to make pronouncements. It's not about backdoor criticism. It's about doing your job — for all the people of the state of Vermont and defending the laws as passed by the legislature and signed by the governor."

Asked by a reporter whether the heated primary was a race between "old Democrats" and "new Democrats," Dean said, "This is a race between ambition and experience, and I choose experience."

Asked if, perhaps, he might've been referring to Donovan, Dean said, "I said what I said. I'm not going to embellish on it. What I'm going to say again is — what I'm going to say is — you're never going to get me on this. I've done this nationally. I'm never going to let a reporter put words in my mouth."

[Laughs all around]

"So what I'll say again is that there are some in this race who are coming out with a lot of policy positions which have nothing to do with the job of attorney general," he said. "The fact is the job of the attorney general is to stand up and defend the laws of the state of Vermont passed by the legislature and signed by the governor — whether the attorney general likes those laws or not — and that's what Bill Sorrell's done."

Dean's takeaway? That young whippersnapper Donovan — ahem, "some people in this race" — is too ambitious, too political and misunderstands the job he's running for.

"This is a tough job, attorney general. It's not a political job," he said. "If you start making political decisions to please people, then you're not doing your job. And that's why I like Bill."

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After Dean and Sorrell parried with the press a little longer, the two walked up the steps of City Hall and headed to the city clerk's office, where they took early ballots and — with the television cameras rolling — voted early.

Queried about who he was voting for in the nine-way Democratic primary for state senate, Dean said, "I'm not telling you that."

How 'bout you Bill?

"I'm gonna keep my votes to myself on that," the AG said. "But I can tell you whom I voted for for attorney general. And I have at least one vote."

Make that two.

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About The Author

Paul Heintz

Paul Heintz

Bio:
Paul Heintz is Seven Days' political editor. He writes the weekly column, "Fair Game."

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