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November 05, 2008

Ram, Zuckerman to Represent Chitty 3-4

Zuckerman Kesha_headshot Former UVM SGA President Kesha Ram will join Representative Dave Zuckerman in representing Chittenden's 3-4 district in the Vermont State House in Montpelier.  "The first reaction I had was humbling," she explained to me in a phone call, "It's incredibly humbling that people from all walks of life will actually circle your name."Or, you know, fill in the oval next to your name.

In securing victory, Ms. Ram has defeated incumbent Chris Pearson, a Progressive.  This comes at a major blow to the Vermont Progressive Party; Mr. Pearson served as Caucus Chair.  For Representative Zuckerman, victory has extended his decade-plus tenure of service in the State House.  I have contacted both Representative Zuckerman and Mr. Pearson for comments — I'll post them when they get back to me.


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Awesome! She's so pretty!


Yeah, that's a great reason to elect someone. What a shame the Dems did this. Huge loss for the people represented, and a huge step backward. Very sad day.

ONE Ballista

While Pearson did have some excellent ideas-- ONEVT, I don't think its fair to call it a loss for the people represented or a step backwards.... afterall, they voted for Kesha with a huge margin over Pearson. Clearly, a large majority of people in 3-4 see her as a step forward. That's democracy.


When the majority of people voting an students who are uninformed about local politics and issues, I find it hard to believe that her victory was anything more than a UVM popularity contest. I actually heard someone say that they voted for Obama and Kesha, but he didn't know about any of the other people or races so he just filled in random circles. That's great.

And it is a step backwards - Pearson has built relationships, trust and networks. That has to be rebuilt now. Not to mention repairing the stab in the back the Dems gave to the Progressive party - how are they honestly expected to work together after this?

ONE Ballista

Incumbent Leo Valliere had also built relationships, trust and networks, but the voters in his district decided that someone else could do the job better. As is the case in 3-4. Kesha got pretty much the same number of votes as Zuckerman (~100 different out of ~6,700 cast)and 3-4 is half non-UVM. Looks like the students and the Old North End combined decided to split the ticket and vote for Zuckerman and Ram together: hardly a blind vote.
Re-Election is like a performance evaluation every two years for incumbents, and in the case of 3-4 and Barre, the people determined that it was time to try something new. Our democracy is set up for this kind of voter accountability.
Are you saying that because the voters excercized their right to make a choice that the Progs are going to blame the Dems and not work on making sound public policy? That would be a shame. Maybe they should instead look at why voters would choose not to vote for them. Its not the Dem's fault that voters can vote for whomever they want to.


I can't argue, because you make a very good point. It's true. And I don't want to give the impression that I'm speaking for any party, because I'm just a citizen and these are just my opinions. But I have 2 questions - First, why did Kesha feel the need to run a second phantom candidate? Ortego said that he had no intention of serving if he was elected - how irresponsible is that? She didn't need to have him on the ballot - I do consider that a dirty political tactic. And second, why didn't the Dems focus their efforts and resources somewhere else in the city, like the New North End, where it could have affected real "change"? It seems that going after Progressives, when you agree substantively on all the issues, is a bit stupid and self-serving.


As a UVM student, I am really sad to see Pearson go, he was a great Rep, and I encourage him to run again and reclaim his seat.

Kesha ran a campaign based on absolutely no issues. Yeah, she had her pamphlets that outlined her policy (nothing that Zuckerman or Pearson had not done or tried to do, or don't support), and all of the media attention from being such a young candidate, but when it comes down to it, she ran to further her political career and unseated a great, genuine guy, and not a career politician in the making.

A lot of people in the UVM community voted for her out of ignorance; they saw her picture with Barack Obama and voted for her because of that. In fact, when I talked to some of these UVMers, and told them about the issues, they wished they had voted for Pearson.

I find it ironic that Kesha's people have accused Pearson of riding Zuckerman's coattails when that's the only reason Kesha won; she exploited the wave of change for her own personal benefit and not for the benefit of the state.

UVM made their choice, but the fact that Kesha won a popularity contest performed by an electorate that was purposefully kept ignorant of the issues is a sad victory.


The Progs have been throwing a temper tantrum about this race since Kesha announced her candidacy. One person mentioned to me that Dave Z called it "a waste of civic energy." Please! Just because you're in the House doesn't mean you have the right to run unchallenged. The lack of genuinely competitive house races this year state wide was the real disappointment. Congrats, Kesha!


For sure, democracy says that anyone can run for office. Indeed, Kesha did this and won - at least in part at the prompting of bitter Dems (i.e. Ed Adrian) despite agreeing on *every* issue that her reps already touted. But hey, it's her right to put huge pictures of her next to Obama to imply that he endorsed her. Nothing illegal about it. But it sure straddles the ethical border. And it doesn't show a desire by her or party stalwarts to cross party lines and work together with Progressives. But guarantee Dems will cry foul in the next statewide race where a Prog siphons votes away from Dems. Citing Kesha, no one has to wonder why.


Really, the progs must stop whining. Guess what? You don't have the right to keep your seat if you don't know how to convince enough people to come and vote for you. Just like certain other National pols who feel they should get it or keep it simply because they're entitled or it's theirs or because haven't done anything offensive.

I found out about Kesha Ram because she knocked on my door. She seemed like a future star. I researched her on the web. I educated myself about the other candidates too, and their sour grapes because she's running. She's not even in your party! There are going to be young up-and-comers who want to make a difference in the government and if they make a convincing case for themselves, then it's going to take more than the incumbents saying - "that's not fair! this is my seat! we don't even disagree that much!", etc, etc. - if they want to keep their long-held seats. If she outmatches you in politicking, then she wins and you lose and that's that. Let the new talent come in, maybe try running for another office instead.

I'm a Democrat and I voted for Democrat Kesha Ram. Maybe some day when she's famous I'll be able to tell people I voted for her in her her first statehouse race when she was just out of college.

Congratulations Kesha, you ran a great campaign.

David Zuckerman

I know that my comment "waste of civic energy" has been bandied about quite a bit. I hope that folks will see my comment (from six months ago) in the context of how I said it rather than continuing to use it in a way it was not meant.

My point at the time was that if we all worked together with this great energy that Kesha and her supporters have then maybe all of this "civic energy" could have been used to truly change the overall state representation on the issues. If we had all worked together to remove legislators or the administration that is in the way of our common goals that it would have been a better use of all of our time.

It is not about us feeling that we have a right to run unopposed. Or that Kesha did not have a right to run. I hope people will stop propelling this myth with respect to my comments. It is more trying to look at the bigger picture to see how we could all use our energy to move forward those goals we have in common.

I think it was clear in the campaign that there was not going to be a major shift in issue positions no matter who won. There would be and now is a different perspective on how to do the job (this is not a good or bad point please.)

But I have to wonder...had Chris and I been Democrats would Kesha have run against us in a primary? Would people like Ed and Maurice worked so hard to defeat us? Do party labels matter that much? If they do, is that not a sad statement about our democracy?

I know...people will reply that if party labels do not matter, then why are Chris and I not Democrats? I think we have made it clear why that is the case. We feel the Democratic party is too broad. Kesha appears to be one of the types of Democrats who is "liberal" or "progressive" on the issues. But there are many who are not. Typically the non-progressive side of the party wins the day when it comes to actual policy making.

If we all used our civic energy to promote/support liberal or progressive policy makers, irregardless of party, then I feel we would be making more strides forward than all the energy (and money) we just spent on this election. It is not about me or Chris or Kesha. None of us are that important in the big picture.

I hope this clarifies what I meant by that comment. I am sorry that it created such a stir.

With respect to the district and the voter make-up. We will have to wait and see who actually voted in each area of town before we all make projections that this population or that one voted more or created the results. But from a first glance, I want people to recognize that even the ward 2 section of the district was dominated by voters under 24. That is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. But before we characterize who and what demographic supported whom, I think it important to know the facts. Also...I suspect every type of ballot was cast that could have been (2 D's, or 2 P's or each of the combinations of 1 and 1). It is far more complicated than just looking at the final numbers.

Cathy Resmer

Thanks for taking the time to respond here, Dave.


"Irregardless", huh? Oh boy...

Daniel Sanchez

Kesha Ram ran a great campaign. She was also very smart running with the "change" theme and also prominently posting her photo with Barack Obama as if he were implicitly endorsing her. In the aftermath of the election and the huge celebrations by students and people of all ages on Tuesday night on Main Street, Kesha also had a perfect sense of timing. She was very smart in her grassroots campaign, knocking on all doors and helping many UVM students to register to vote in the ward. It was a brilliant tactic that she also convinced her friend Philip Ortego to run at the same time as a "phantom candidate" on the Democratic ticket and got several hundred votes as a result, despite his declarations and lack of campaigning. It is interesting to note that his 700 votes had gone somewhere else, it could have been a closer tally in a 3 way between Zuckerman, Pearson and Ram. If you add it all up, it was the perfect storm coming and both Zuckerman and Pearson knew it.
That said, it was a perfect storm, and as we all know, perfect storms just don't happen that often. Without this combination of factors, Ram would have had a much worse chance of winning despite all her grassroots campaign and whatnot.
If student enthusiasm hadn't been as high this year as it was for Obama, not as many students would have voted and provided the cushion she had. I'm presuming that turnout will not be nearly as high as it will be 2 years from now, where Kesha will be a freshman incumbent ripe for a pickoff.
If Chris Pearson is willing to fight for his seat again, he should immediately announce his intention to run again in the district. He has a base, after all, 1200 voted for him. He should convince Zuckerman to work with him for his reelection campaign and keep coordination with Kesha Ram to a minimum so as to give her as little credit and accomplishments as possible vis-a-vis what Pearson has done in his few years in the legislature.
Student participation will not be as high or as invested in the election 2 years from now and that is Kesha's primary constituency. Many of the voters that brought her into office will have moved on outside the district or the state. Pearson should become a lot more visible on campus with Zuckerman, and while he won't be able to get much out of the student vote, he can cut into Kesha's constituency. Pearson also has to follow Kesha's lead in this election campaign in completely canvassing the district, most importantly the more long term residents who aren't students and convince them to vote, whether it be by absentee ballot, early voting or voting on Election Day. That is he has to consolidate his own constituency and keep it out of Kesha's hands. If he can maintain the base he had this past election, combined with a better grassroots campaign, taking a chunk of Kesha's student base along with a significant decline in student apathy/voting, he has a shot at reclaiming the seat. It is either that or waiting until she vacates the seat in a 4 to 8 year period of time.
Kesha Ram is a very smart and ambitious young woman who will not content herself to be a state rep. You just don't run to be at such an age and stay satisfied with what you have. She is positioning herself to buff up her resume so she can have a shot eventually at a local or statewide office, whether it be as mayor or Burlington, a State Senator, etc. Otherwise she wouldn't have sought and gotten official endorsements from Democracy for America, Emily's List and former governor Madeleine Kunin (who is a great teacher by the way) for nothing. She is building her pedigree to be a full-time politician and I wouldn't be surprised if she sought office at the federal level.
With that said, if Pearson is to regain his seat, he has go up against a smart, aggressive politician like Kesha Ram. If he does, good luck. He's going to need it because she is one tough young lady.
While I was displeased at some of her tactics, we got a woman who has the grit to become a future governor or dare I say, a candidate running for President. Unless her wings are clipped in a state representative two years from now by Chris Pearson and the Progressive Party, we got ourselves a woman with a bright future in politics.

Ed Adrian

Dave states above that he feels that the Democratic Party is too broad, I wonder then how he supports someone like Dexter Randall? Mr. Randall was the Orleans-Franklin 1 candidate who lost in a three way race.

It was the Democrat in that race who was supported by Planned Parenthood NNE. Mr. Randall evidently did not even bother to fill out the PPNNE survey.

Mr. Randall voted against a bill that was sponsored by Dave that would have allowed life ending prescriptions for terminally ill patients.

Nor did Mr. Randall mention anything on his website or about marriage choice or being endorsed by the Vermont Freedom to Marry Action Committee or his support for marriage equality although to their credit Dave, Chris and Kesha all did one or the other.

It is odd that Dave would claim to support a very narrow platform and then support someone like Mr. Randall as a progressive ally, when it is clear that Mr. Randall does not appear to support some of the major planks of the Progressive Party platform (look under civil rights).

Now let me be clear, there are plenty of Democrats, even my fellow city councilors who have voted against things I find to be fundamental to my liberal core beliefs, but I am willing to accept those votes and to try to work together in a "big tent".

I do not know why anyone would think I am a "bitter Dem". I have won every race that I have ever had against a Progressive. I believe in probably 95% of the Progressive Platform (my bet is that both Kesha and I support more items on the Progressive Platform then Mr. Randall does). I supported Kesha Ram, not just because she was a Democrat, but because just being right on the issues is only half of the game. Reaching out and earning the trust and respect of your constituency (not just your legislative colleagues) is the other half and I believe that Kesha is more qualified to do that. Kesha ran a very strong and very positive campaign, despite the personal attacks that she endured from others.

Dave has also worked very hard at reaching out to the community and I applauded him for his efforts publicly on the FPF on October 30, 2008 where I stated the following:

"I have known Dave Zuckerman for over a decade when we shared a regular card game with a group of other folks. I am a founding member of his CSA, he came to our wedding and I consider him a friend. He has worked hard and I wish him the best of luck. Remember that each and every one of you in the Chittenden 3-4 legislative district can vote for two people for the Vermont House. I would encourage all of you to join me in voting for Kesha." *** I should note that as of November 5, 2008 I became, not due to my own choice, a former member of Dave's CSA.

I also publicly supported Tim Ashe (through a BFP LTE) in the Senate primary and received some push back from some fellow Ds for the letter. However, at the State level, I believe in the things that Tim believes in and he was doing what the Democrats have asked other Progressives to do (run in a primary). Fusion is the wave of the future.

I believe in the two party system, but that does not mean that I am blind to the qualities that individual candidates can bring to the table.

If anybody above wants to discuss this with me, they can call me anytime on my cell phone at 233-2131.



"the stab in the back the Dems gave to the Progressive party"

Howabout the stab in the back that the Progs gave to the Democratic Party when Dave Z ran against Democrat Sandy Baird back in the mid-1990s. That was a waste of "civic energy."

Howabout the stab in the back that the Progs gave to the Democratic Party when Pollina ran as the third candidate in the Governor's race in 2000 and came close to putting Howard Dean under the magic 50%?

Howabout the stab in the back that the Progs gave to the Democratic Party when Pollina ran as the third candidate in the Lt. Gov.'s race in 2002 and handed that office to Brian Dubie?

Howabout the stab in the back that the Progs gave to the Democratic Party when Dave Z began a run for Congress against Peter Welch in 2006? Had Bernie not told Dave to get out, we'd all be saluting Congressman Rainville.

Yeah, stab in the back alright.


Mr. Sanchez says Kesha's going places. The people of the Old North End don't care. They just want someone to represent them.

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