Liberty Union Party candidate Ben Mitchell has withdrawn from the super-close governor's race and thrown his support to Democrat Peter Shumlin.
In an email sent to the media this morning, Mitchell calls Republican Brian Dubie a "far right ideologue" because he is pro-life, opposes same-sex marriage and "supports shutting down schools and libraries in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest one percent."
As for Shumlin, Mitchell writes, "Peter is not a socialist by any account, but his support for single payer health care reform, his effort to move public resources away from incarceration and back into the community, his unquestioned support for equal protection for all our citizens — these positions make Peter Shumlin best candidate for Governor in 2010.
"I encourage all Vermonters to join me in this support," he concludes.
Mitchell is a 43-year-old English teacher from Westminster and father of two. His father, Mark Mitchell, is a Democratic state representative from Barnard who endorsed Shumlin for governor.
Mitchell did not run an active campaign. In a profile for Seven Days, he described himself as "sitting around for office." However, he did join Shumlin, Dubie and three other gubernatorial candidates onstage for the Vermont Public Television debate on Oct. 7. Wearing a baseball hat, Mitchell's "show of hands" routine produced some of the best, but least talked-about, theaterics of the campaign.
In his closing statement, the candidates complied like school children as Mitchell baited them with a series of hot-button questions: How many of us favor legalizing pot? How many of us have smoked pot in our lives? How many favor repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell? An Islamic Center two blockcs from Ground Zero?
On that last question, looking at Dubie, Mitchell quipped, "Are you against any other parts of the Bill of Rights? The whole Bill of Rights?" Dubie kept his hands down the whole time; Shumlin raised his tepidly on some responses, looking around at what other candidates were doing. (See video; fast-forward to around minute 1:17:00)
So was Mitchell a spoilier-in-waiting? Would the Liberty Union's share of the the vote have handed the election to Dubie? Let's look at the numbers.
A VPR opinion poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. earlier this month, showed Dubie getting 44 percent and Shumlin with 43 percent. MItchell got 1 percent, as did four other independent candidates: Dan Feliciano of Essex Junction; Dennis Steele of Kirby; Emily Peyton of Putney; and Cris Ericson of Chester.
Previously, Mitchell has run on the Libertry Union Party ticket three times. In those races, the percentages he won are as follows: 1.1 percent in the 2008 lieutenant governor's race; 5.5 percent in the Windham County state Senate race in 2006; and 0.2 percent in the 2004 U.S. Senate race.
Seven Days emailed the other gubernatorial underdogs curious if they might follow Mitchell's lead. Two responded.
Feliciano, the businesse consultant, wrote: "I'm still in."
Ericson, running under the banner of the United States Marijuana Party, commented, in all caps:
HE'S A GOOD CANDIDATE!
HE DID GREAT ON VPT!
HE WAS MOST EXCELLENT!
DON'T DROP OUT, BEN!
BESIDES, YOU ARE ON THE BALLOT!
As for myself, Cris Ericson, I WILL NEVER DROP OUT
OF THE RACES! I DEMAND EQUAL TREATMENT UNDER THE LAW
FOR MARIJUANA USERS TO NOT BE PROSECUTED AND PUNISHED
BECAUSE MARIJUANA IS EQUALLY AS DANGEROUS OR LESS
DANGEROUS THAN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, AND MARIJUANA LAWS
SHOULD BE EQUAL TO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE LAWS.
Cris Ericson 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, etc.
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