Not only is Presidential primary voting in Vermont today, but Burlington is picking a new mayor, and my cousin Kurt Wright (our mothers were sisters--you'd have a better chance of winning megabucks than of ever guessing their names) just might pull it off.
He’ll always be Kurt to me since that’s what I called him growing up. Along with his brother Eddie and sister Sharman, Kurt used to play Jeopardy for hours, games I had made up specially for the three of them (Kurt was always fond of political categories, Eddie of cooking).
But I digress…
As might be imagined, Kurt is a Republican, and he came just shy of springing an upset three years ago in the socialist stronghold of Burlington. In fact, he led after the first two rounds of instant runoff voting, but never reached 50 percent. This is his third (and final, if he loses, he says) run for mayor. He's been President of the City Council and apprently is much more likeable than his New Hampshire cousin (how's that for self-deprecating humor?).
Kurt would be only the second Republican Mayor of Bernie Sanderville in the past 50 years. According to the Burlington Free Press, Progressives have held the seat for 13 of the past 14 terms since Sanders first won in 1981.
Burlington has gotten rid of the bizarre instant runoff system. Now, with three candidates running, voters will have to go back to the polls if no one reaches a 40 percent threshold.
Kurt is running against Democrat Miro Weinberger and a long shot independent Wanda Hines. The guy who beat Kurt last time, Progressive Bob Kiss, was involved in a scandal—apparently $17 million of city funds were improperly spent on Burlington Telecom without public disclosure.
My cousin was a leader in bringing that issue forth, and we can kiss Kiss goodbye. He’s not running again.
The Free Press says records for early voting have been set; it’s the most expensive mayor’s race in Vermont history--$100,000 for Kiss; $40,000 for Kurt, $2000 for Hines.
For some reason, there are 35,000 people on the voter checklist—that seems high for a city of 42,000 people an increase of 10,000 from six years ago, mostly in the college wards (UVM and other colleges dominate the Burlington scene).
That’s probably bad news for my cousin who, as a State Representative, was one of the few Republicans to vote to override the Republican governor’s veto of gay marriage a few years back.
In a city like Burlington, that can’t hurt.
As you watch the Super Tuesday results come in (the big question in Vermont seems to be whether Romney can get to 50 percent, the threshold of taking all the state’s delegates), think of Kurt, the Wright choice for Burlington.