While Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders campaigned in the North Country Monday, down in Claremont, his home-state governor was stumping for his one of his opponents.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is one of a handful of Democratic Governors to supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.
“She’s practical, she’s innovative, she’s progressive, and she gets things done. And that’s why I’m so excited about this campaign," Shumlin said.
So far, Sanders hasn’t received an endorsement from any governors. Shumlin, who may have been Sanders’ best hope for one, stressed he still holds his fellow Vermonter in high regard.
“You know Bernie is a good friend of mine," Shumlin said, "and I have tremendous admiration for him, tremendous respect for him, we work together on lots of issues, and I’m really glad he’s running for president. He’s raising critical issues.”
But to understand why despite that praise, Shumlin’s not behind Sanders, it helps to know something about Sanders’ place within Vermont’s political landscape.
“Bernie is perceived by Democratic voters as one of them," said Garrison Nelson, who teaches political science at the University of Vermont. "But the Democratic establishment has always been hesitant about accepting Bernie Sanders.”
Garrison says the state’s emphasis on individual candidates over party labels is what allowed for someone like Bernie Sanders -- a self-avowed socialist -- to get elected in the first place.
But now, as Sanders moves into a national political arena that is dominated by the parties, his history of independence is costing him party support.
Whether this will be a good thing for his campaign is up for debate, especially given that Sanders is casting himself as an anti-establishment candidate.