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General Martha Rainville

08/17/05 12:00AM By Dick Mallary
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(HOST) On Tuesday, commentator Philip Baruth expressed reservations about General Martha Rainville's potential congres- sional candidacy. Today commentator Dick Mallary offers another point of view on the subject.


(MALLARY) It is well over a year before the next election but it seems that the political sniping season has already started.

A case in point is the recent, apparently coordinated, effort to force Vermont's Adjutant General Martha Rainville to resign her position if she is even considering entering the race to become Vermont's next Representative in Congress. The suggestion that she should resign now - before she has even decided if she wishes to become a candidate - raises a legitimate question. It is this: Are there significant conflicts between the candidate's regular job and that person's candidacy for office?

It is an established and well-accepted custom for elected office holders in Vermont and elsewhere in the United States to run for reelection and to run for higher office while they are incumbents. In the 2004 election in Vermont, Peter Clavelle, as candidate for gov- ernor, ran the full campaign while serving as Mayor of Burlington. The nominees for President and Vice President John Kerry and John Edwards ran their full campaigns while keeping their seats in the United States Senate.

We certainly should not prevent anyone from considering or aspir- ing to run for higher office just because that person now holds a different elective office. It seems to me that the critical issue is whether the person's announced or active candidacy impairs that person's ability to do the job he or she was elected to perform.

With respect to Martha Rainville, I have no personal knowledge as to whether she plans to run for Congress.

She is an elected official, having been reelected to her position by the legislature in 2005. She is now doing an admirable job as Adjutant General at a time of heavy duties and great stress on the National Guard.

Her activities have been appropriate for her position and she has not in any way overtly politicized it.

Her name has been mentioned as a candidate for Congress, but she has not made any formal announcement of candidacy.

I see no legitimate basis for a request that she resign her position at this time. If she becomes a candidate and, at some future time, the activities of her candidacy seriously impair her ability to serve effectively as Adju- tant General, then she might have to consider resignation or a leave of absence.

But we should no more ask Martha Rainville to leave her elected position than we ask Bernie Sanders to resign his House seat to run for the Senate or Peter Welch to resign his seat in the Vermont Senate to run for the U.S. House.

This is Dick Mallary in Brookfield.

Dick Mallary has served extensively in state government and is a former U. S. congressman from Vermont. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.
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