Pillsbury to face Shumlin, White for Senate
By Susan Smallheer
Herald Staff | February 25,2008
BRATTLEBORO – Rep. Daryl Pillsbury, I-Brattleboro, announced this week that he would challenge Windham County’s two incumbent senators this fall.
Pillsbury, 52, a four-term House member, said that he had come to the conclusion after almost eight years in the House of thwarted efforts representing his district “the Senate is the problem.”
And in particular, Pillsbury thinks Sen. Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, president pro tempore of the Senate, is a big problem.
“My problem with Mr. Shumlin is how he spins everything; I’d rather beat him than her,” said Pillsbury, referring to the county’s other senator, Sen. Jeannette White, D-Windham.
Pillsbury has an abundance of confidence, as long as Shumlin and White agree to a campaign finance limit. He’s no Pillsbury dough boy: He estimated that $10,000 should cover the expenses of a county Senate campaign, and he challenged the two incumbents to agree to the lower limit.
If they don’t, and Pillsbury said he’s well aware of Shumlin’s fund-raising expertise, he’s done for.
“If we both spend the same amount of money, I guarantee I’ll beat him,” said Pillsbury, noting he is from the working class, and much of Windham County is working class. “I’m not just doing this for the hell of it,” he said, noting he had spent seven months researching an independent run from Windham County, considered one of the most liberal counties in the state.
“I think he does a good job for Democrats. He’s the strategist for the Democratic Party,” he said of Shumlin, who is arguably the most powerful elected Democrat in Montpelier.
“I’m more of a straight shooter and Shumlin’s not. He says he’s not beholden to the party interests, but he is the party interests,” Pillsbury said, who said he wished there were no party affiliations in the Statehouse. “Something might get done,” he said.
Pillsbury said he voted against Catamount Health, the state’s health care plan for the uninsured, because most of his constituents were against it. They support a single-payer system, he said.
The Democrats wouldn’t fight hard enough for it, he said.
Pillsbury noted that he was intentionally announcing early in the campaign because of concerns about a new campaign finance limit, which could hamper even his modest fund-raising effort.
Pillsbury said that in the first couple of years he was in the Statehouse, he often voted with the Democrats. But when the Democrats got their new, big majority, his independent vote wasn’t needed and his legislative goals were thwarted. Pillsbury infuriated Democrats when he sided with Gov. James Douglas on his budget last year.
His prime disappointment was failing to get all the state funding for the renovations at Brattleboro Union High School and the technical center.
Pillsbury, a longtime maintenance employee of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, said he had been working on his Senate campaign already for seven months, talking to people in the county and gauging support.
In 2006, the Republicans didn’t even bother to run anyone against Shumlin and White, even though Shumlin had been out of politics for four years, he said.
“People are disgusted by the party rhetoric. You pick a team, and your team has to win, and the people get left behind,” said Pillsbury.
Contact Susan Smallheer at firstname.lastname@example.org.