Holcombe rules out running for governor

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Former Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe is not planning a run for the governor's office. After several weeks of speculation, she dashed some Democrats' hopes with a definitive statement on the matter.

Rumors of a possible run were bolstered by members of the Democratic Party, her appearance at a rally held by the Vermont National Education Association, the teachers union, and a telephone poll that floated her name as a possible candidate.

In an email to VTDigger on Tuesday, Holcombe reiterated what she earlier wrote to Seven Days: "I'm not running for office. I am looking for ways to help clarify the choices the state has before it and to contribute to pragmatic solutions to Vermont's significant policy challenges."

Just days earlier, at a celebration of public schools in Fairlee, Holcombe appeared to be working the room, smiling and shaking hands with school administrators. Attendees of the event hosted by the Vermont Superintendents Association and the Vermont Special Education Administrators were also wondering aloud if the rumors were true that Holcombe was considering a run for the state's highest office.

The deadline for all candidate filings with the Secretary of State's office is Thursday.

Jeff Francis, head of the Vermont Superintendents Association, said the whisper campaign for Holcombe's purported bid were conjecture. "In every conversation I had about it, it was always speculative," Francis said. "A decision of that magnitude is hugely personal."

Francis said Holcombe is an "effective leader" and a "proponent of public education" whose voice will continue to be important.

Sen. Philip Baruth, D/P-Chittenden, chair of the Senate Education Committee, said he was disappointed Holcombe isn't running. "She's a deep policy mind and an iconic woman in the state, and I think it could have turned out to be her year," Baruth said.

His counterpart in the House, Rep. David Sharpe, D-Bristol, suggested anticipation of a nasty campaign may have been a deciding factor. "I believe she was under a lot of pressure to resign from the Agency of Education and that might play out in a difficult campaign," he said, adding that he thought she would be an "outstanding governor."

Since Holcombe's hasty departure from the Scott administration she has refused to be interviewed about the real reasons for her resignation. Many have come to believe it was because of her differences with Republican Gov. Phil Scott over cost containment proposals.

She remains tight-lipped, providing no more information than her statement to news outlets.

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