There’s still nearly a year until candidates declare that they’re running for Lamoille County seats in the Legislature.
However, some 2018 candidates for House and Senate are still reporting some action within their campaigns — at least those with money left over from the last election.
State law requires anyone who spent money since the last election, or had money left over, to file campaign finance disclosures with the Secretary of State’s Office. They can either close out their account or they can roll it over to the 2020 campaign.
The wrinkle in the law is this essentially sets up a 2020 campaign on paper, even though candidates have until next year to actually file paperwork to become a candidate.
Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, will have a significant head start on the fundraising if she decides to run for an eighth term — she has $9,026 left over from her last campaign.
“No decision has been made yet, but we will be well-prepared” if she decides to run again, Scheuermann said.
Most other local incumbents said much the same about their plans for next year — we’ll wait and see.
“I am going to see how this next session goes and make a decision about running again or not,” said Rep. Avram Patt, D-Worcester; his district also includes Morristown, Elmore and Woodbury.
Patt’s seatmate, Dave Yacovone, D-Morristown, has been seen at virtually every local event this summer, from Oxbow Park concerts to a local opioid summit.
“I think it’s a little early for campaigning,” Yacovone said. “I’m not out knocking on doors, but I’m definitely making myself available to my constituents.”
Rep. Dan Noyes, D-Wolcott, also no stranger at local events, was a little more certain of his plans: “I have every intention of running again in 2020.”
His district partner, Matt Hill, D-Wolcott, said he wants to talk it over with his family closer to the end of the next session. Noyes and Hill also represent Belvidere, Hyde Park and Johnson.
“The job is still extremely fun for me,” Hill said. “I just haven’t made a decision yet.”
And freshman Rep. Lucy Rogers, D-Waterville, said she’s still learning the ropes, and would prefer to keep focused on that. She was talking from a nationwide conference of state representatives in Nashville this week.
“It’s not necessarily a decision to run or not,” she said. “The reason I’m avoiding that question is I was elected to a two-year term and I’m not even halfway through it.”
Two candidates who lost in their House races last year — Marina Meerburg of Stowe and Gary Nolan of Morristown — didn’t offer their thoughts on next year.
“I haven’t made any definite decision yet so I would prefer to wait,” Meerburg wrote in an email.
Money in the bank
Last year’s midterm election had many competitive House races, as a so-called “blue wave” of Democratic contenders were either elected or put a scare into some incumbents.
With those competitive races came higher-than-usual campaign contributions.
The races for the Stowe seat and the Cambridge-Waterville seat in the Vermont House of Representatives, combined, brought in roughly $95,000 in campaign contributions.
Some candidates managed to spend most of it, but many of them have cash left over. Here’s how much money 2018 Lamoille County candidates are rolling over to the 2020 election, if they choose to run.
• Scheuermann has the most money left over, $9,025.61. She said she has had the same campaign account since her first run for the Legislature in 2006, and the fund has had plenty of ups and downs over more than a dozen years.
• Meerburg, who ran against Scheuermann last year, has $3,716.65 in the bank, left over from the roughly $20,000 she raised in 2018 in her first run for the House.
• Nolan, who was unseated by Patt last year, has $6,991.68 in campaign surplus available for another run, or to help like-minded candidates by donating to their campaigns. Nolan first ran in 2016.
• Yacovone, who also ran three years ago, has $2,074 left from the 2018 campaign.
• Patt won a House seat in 2014, lost in 2016, and won again last year. He has $212.50 left over.
• Rogers raised about $14,500 last year, almost all of it in donations under $100. She has reported a surplus of $3,055.32. Her opponent, Zac Mayo, hadn’t yet filed a disclosure this year.
• In the Lamoille-2 district represented by Noyes and Hill, fundraising in 2018 wasn’t very robust. Noyes has a $146.01 surplus, while Hill has $26.39 left over.
With the first half of the legislative biennium nearly three months behind them and the second half almost five months away, local lawmakers are juggling their day jobs with their legislative tasks, like summer study sessions and meet-and-greets with their neighbors.
Hill is one of two House members assigned to the state workforce development board, so he’s concentrating on that — at least when he’s not banging nails or trying to sell property in his other day jobs.
Said the 30-something, “If you’re mid-career or younger, it’s especially hard, because you’re in the prime of your working career and trying to sock away money for retirement.”
That outlook may color how he relates to small business owners as part of the workforce development board.
“I think there could be more input from small businesses, but I think they’re having a tough time making the meetings because they’re busy running their small businesses,” Hill said.
Rogers was busy this week at the conference of state representatives in Nashville. She said it’s “a very nonpartisan organization,” so the sessions tend to dig into actual policy topics rather than politics.
She’s not on any summer committees or task forces, but has been following the task force on rural health services, and even attending the meetings. The group’s members come from “across the continuum of care” — small and large hospitals, independent providers, mental health agencies, substance abuse professionals, and the like.
“I think it’s helpful to have a legislator there to show them that we are taking their work seriously,” Rogers said.
Scheuermann is focused on starting a new tourism caucus. The bipartisan group has met once, and she said its main goal for now is to work on H.298, which would build a tourism promotion marketing fund for the state.
“We’re going to try to make it so that, come January, we have a real head start on it,” she said.
Yacovone said he’s a habitual attendee at community events, since he graduated from college in 1976 and joined the county planning commission.
“I’d be out every night of the week. Now it’s about every other night,” he said.
Patt has been tracking issues, statewide and nationally, and is part of the Legislature’s climate caucus. His summer has been spent looking at issues surrounding renewable energy and utility and regulatory issues.
“And about 20 minutes ago, I finished stacking some wood and it immediately fell over, so that’s what’s in my immediate future,” he laughed.