There’s not much doubt that this primary season has set some new lows for intra-party civility, from the hundred-million-dollar hate fest put on by Californian Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner to the mutual-assured-destruction of Hawaii Democrats Ed Case and Colleen Hanabusa that handed the GOP a U.S. House seat. This Tuesday’s primaries were generally no exception, particularly in Florida, where Republican notables greeted the gubernatorial victory of Rick Scott like the arrival of the bubonic plague.
But there was at one counterexample: Vermont's remarkable Democratic gubernatorial primary, a highly competitive five-way battle that went through over 60 debates with rarely an unkind word exchanged. On Wednesday, the state Democratic Party put on a unity rally that drew all five candidates. That’s remarkable, because the outcome of the gubernatorial races had not yet been decided, with a grand total of 684 votes separating the top three finishers (state Senate president pro tem Peter Shumlin, who ran first; former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine, who ran second; and Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, who ran third) and the vote not yet officially certified. Instead of hunkering down in their campaign HQs to spread dark rumors about stolen ballot boxes and pending lawsuits, Shumlin, Racine and Markowitz were yukking it up together and making every imaginable gesture of unity. (Click here to see some of the photos.)
I doubt it’s a trend likely to sweep the nation, but Vermont’s Democrats really do deserve some positive attention for going positive this year.