For the first 15 months of Republican Gov. Phil Scott’s administration, Rebecca Holcombe served as his secretary of education. Now she’s hoping to oust him from Vermont’s top job.
The 52-year-old Norwich resident, a former teacher and principal, announced Tuesday morning that she’ll seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2020. That makes her the first declared candidate in the field.
“I’m running for governor to take the state in a new direction — to put my experience as a lifelong educator to work and make sure every Vermonter has an equal opportunity to succeed,” she said in a written statement.
Holcombe pondered a run for governor in 2018 but ultimately sat out that race. Last month, she told Seven Days she was in “the exploratory phase” of a 2020 campaign. Other potential candidates could include Democratic Attorney General T.J. Donovan and Progressive/Democratic Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman.
Scott, 60, said last month that he would not announce whether he would seek a third two-year term until the end of the next legislative session, which is likely to conclude in May 2020. He defeated former transportation secretary Sue Minter by 8.8 percentage points in 2016 and business leader Christine Hallquist by 14.9 points in 2018.
Holcombe, who has not previously run for public office, was appointed secretary of education by Democratic governor Peter Shumlin in September 2013. When Scott chose to retain her in February 2017, the new GOP governor hailed her “fierce commitment to improving Vermont’s education system,” and she said it was “a privilege and an honor” to serve in his administration.
Those feelings had evidently changed by March 2018, when Scott announced that Holcombe had resigned for “personal” reasons. The outgoing secretary declined repeated interview requests at the time and said only in a letter to colleagues, “It is time to move on.” The next month, Seven Days reported that she had, in fact, resigned due to policy disagreements with the governor.
Holcombe addressed her decision in Tuesday’s campaign announcement.
“I joined Gov. Scott’s administration because I took him at his word that he was serious about working to make Vermont more affordable and more equitable,” she said. “I resigned when I realized that was just talk.”
Holcombe added in her written statement that Scott was “pushing for a statewide voucher program that would take millions from our public schools and funnel it to private schools that mostly serve privileged families.”
“I simply couldn’t sit quietly by while our governor was pushing policies that left so many Vermonters behind,” she said.
The daughter of international development workers for the United Nations, Holcombe spent her formative years in Afghanistan and Pakistan, she told Seven Days and Kids VT in 2013. She attended Milton Academy, a private boarding school in Massachusetts, and Brown University. She later earned an MBA from Simmons School of Management and a doctorate from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
Holcombe taught at a Hanover, N.H., middle school and became principal of a Fairlee elementary school at age 29. She later led the Teacher Education Program at Dartmouth College. After leaving the Scott administration, Holcombe worked for Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. She is married to James Bandler, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for ProPublica, and has two children.
Originally Published on SevenDaysVT. Read the original article here.