Fired U.N. Diplomat Galbraith Running for Seat in Vermont Senate
Galbraith said that even though he has spent years outside of Vermont working for the United Nations and serving as a U.S. ambassador and author of two books on U.S. policy in Iraq, the southeastern Vermont community of Townshend has always been his legal residence.
"I was involved in Vermont politics in the '70s," Galbraith, 59, said Monday. "This is my home, and I care about my home."
Galbraith was fired last year from a U.N. post in Afghanistan after accusing his boss of downplaying election fraud and is writing about the war-torn country. He also served as the first U.S. ambassador to Croatia and as a cabinet member for East Timor's transitional first government.
Galbraith is seeking one of two Windham County seats in the Senate. One seat is being vacated by Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin of Putney, who is running for governor.
Galbraith has never held elected office. In 1998 he considered becoming a candidate for a congressional seat in Massachusetts but never gave up his Vermont residency and did not become a candidate, he said.
Even before this announcement, his name has occasionally surfaced as a possible Democratic candidate for office. Two years ago he considered running against Republican Gov. Jim Douglas.
Galbraith said a seat in the Vermont Senate would let him focus on national and state issues, including health care; expanding communications infrastructure into rural areas; and working to ensure the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon is closed when its license expires in 2012.
"There's a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something about health care, which is an issue I care about," Galbraith said. "The federal bill was a step forward but didn't go far enough."
He said he would seek to introduce a single-payer health care system to Vermont.
And at his Townshend home, he's unable to get cellular telephone service and needs a satellite to get high-speed Internet service.
Galbraith is the son of the late Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who bought a home in Vermont in the 1940s.
"I am a son of Windham County. I am well known. People know what I've done. I hope it will be helpful," he said.
In Vermont, Galbraith worked on the 1970 U.S. Senate campaign of former Democratic Gov. Phil Hoff and served as chairman of the state Democratic Party from 1977 to 1979.
He said he looks forward to being involved once again in Vermont politics.
"One of the advantages of running for the state Senate, I have a feeling all will be quite civil and the service will be civil," Galbraith said. "People (politicians) are much more serious than they are in other parts of the country. Politics is about getting things done, rather than scoring points."