By Guy Page
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger is exploring a run for governor.
Last week, Weinberger announced he wouldn’t seek a fifth three-year term as the mayor of Vermont’s largest city. After delivering a ‘legacy’ speech highlighting his work on many key Democrat issues – which he described as “eradicating racism,” “common-sense gun control,” and “innovative local climate policies” – Miro then teased his listeners:
“However, I want to be clear – while I am not certain what I will do next, I have every intention of staying involved. We still have an enormous housing shortage and the second-worst homelessness problem per capita of any state [italics by editor] in the nation. We have a deepening drug crisis that is taking an enormous toll on this community and the rest of Vermont, and a wide range of serious public safety problems. And we are not doing nearly enough as a state on the climate emergency. These issues are bigger than any one city can solve, and they are not going to fix themselves.
“Addressing these challenges will require committed, tireless leadership and I am going to take some time to explore how I can best continue to work on them.”
True, Weinberger didn’t come right out and say, “I’m running for governor next year.” But it was a broad enough hint to encourage VDC to inquire of a longtime, high-level Vermont Democratic insider. Our source confirmed what Weinberger seemed to be hinting at: “Yes. He is exploring a run.”
Weinberger in some ways resembles our current Chief Executive, Phil Scott. Both are successful businessmen with experience building housing, Weinberger as a developer and Scott as a general contractor. Both have labored as an elected chief executive working closely with the legislative branch (the Legislature and Burlington City Council).
Both are seen as fiscally-responsible political moderates by many in their parties. Both have been at odds with activists: Scott with MAGA Republicans, and Weinberger with DEI/BLM activists who sought more control over the police department. Both won the argument. Scott won another overwhelming victory in the last primary and general elections, and Weinberger prevented the formation of another police oversight commission whose advocates included some of the ‘defund the police’ movement. Weinberger’s office also commissioned an audit on former equity and inclusion chief Tyeastia Green’s apparent financial mismanagement of the Juneteenth celebration.
At least two other current elected officials are believed to be interested in running for governor: Secretary of State Sarah Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford, and Chittenden County State Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale. Both have run for statewide office at least once already, and both have been mentioned on social media as possible contenders for the 2024 Democratic nomination.