A Republican win over Bernie Sanders in Vermont, in a presidential year, seems pretty hard to envision. Sanders spent 16 years in the House of Representatives, only once winning less than 56 percent, and he won 65 percent in his first Senate race in 2006.
The last time Obama was on the ballot, the president won a higher share of the vote in Vermont (67 percent) than anywhere else but Hawaii. Having said that, the state where Obama’s approval rating dropped the most from 2009 to 2010 was . . . Vermont, dropping 15.2 percent to 53 percent. The higher the peak, the longer the fall, perhaps.
But there’s a reason Republicans should aim to get good candidates in as many races as possible, even the longest of longshots: Almost any incumbent can find themselves suddenly entangled in scandal, and any one could face complicating health issues (Sanders is 69).
And Vermont Republicans may have a pretty strong candidate after all. State auditor Tom Salmon released the following statement announcing that he is forming an exploratory committee to consider a campaign for U.S. Senate against Sen. Bernard Sanders:
“Our nation is in crisis. Millions of Americans face prolonged underemployment, unemployment, and despair. From Washington to Wisconsin we see the effects of poor planning and lots of unproductive blame. Here in Vermont, teachers are on the verge of a strike in some parts and paying property taxes has never been more difficult. America’s decades long spending binge has reached a tipping point. As an auditor and accountant, I understand that our economic survival is threatened by the massive deficits and debt we are accumulating. As a father, I understand it is my generation’s responsibility to solve these problems now so that ours is not the first generation of Americans to leave to our children a country weaker, less prosperous and less hopeful than the one we inherited.
“I understand that a campaign against an incumbent like Senator Sanders is no easy task. At the same time, I believe that no one is entitled to re-election year after year after year. No one is entitled to any office. Democracy only works when our elected officials are held accountable each and every election cycle through vigorous debate, an airing of the facts, and an examination of the record.
“Over the next several weeks, I will consider more formally whether or not I can make a positive difference, whether running for the Senate is right for my family, and whether Vermonters are eager for fresh leadership, new ideas, and a different approach to finding solutions. Also, the next few months will see my family undergo changes as a son departs for the Air Force and a Daughter graduates from High School.”
Tom Salmon, 47, is the three-term Vermont Auditor of Accounts, a statewide elected position. He is a certified public accountant and licensed teacher, and a E6 in the U.S. Navy (Seabees) Reserves who served in Iraq in 2008-2009. He lives in St. Johnsbury, Vermont with his wife Leslie and they have four children.
Salmon switched parties in 2009, concluding that his views on fiscal issues were closer to the Republicans than the Democrats.