Tim Ashe: The pragmatic Progressive takes Senate helm

By Morgan True | VTDigger | January 2, 2017
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What are the Pro Tem’s politics?
Ashe entered politics as a pure Progressive, and depending on who you ask, he’s migrated toward the center or stuck to his lefty roots. The end result is he’s not generally viewed by colleagues as a partisan. So what are his politics?

“Everywhere I go that’s the question, right?” said Amy Shollenberger, a lobbyist and organizer with the firm Action Circles, “My answer is that he picked Peter Sterling, and it’s not so much that he asked Peter to work for him as it is that Peter took the job.”

Sterling, whom Ashe tapped as his chief of staff, is a longtime advocate for affordable health care – an issue Ashe has championed as well – and is widely seen as an ardent progressive.


There are 564 lobbyists registered with the Vermont Secretary of state, and many of them have gotten frustrated with Ashe at some point because of what they perceive as his unwillingness to be pinned down on the issues.

They sometimes ruefully quip that Ashe doesn’t really start working until the last days of the session when grand budget bargains are made and lingering legislation dies or moves on to the governor’s desk.

“I think that he never wants to be cornered into a position earlier than he has to in order to be able to do the calculus as the process moves forward. Of course that irks people because it’s contrary to an open process where the proposals get debated publicly,” said one lobbyist who asked not to be identified so they could speak candidly about Ashe.

“Sometimes in that building putting something out there is the death knell of that thing. Even the people working with him don’t have full light on where he’s going until it’s all said and done” the lobbyist said.

Shollenberger, with Action Circles, said she’s found Ashe to be clear about what he needs to see in order to go in a certain direction or if something is a long shot to gain his support, but as for his ultimate designs she said: “I think he’s careful about taking strident public positions because he knows he’s going to have to negotiate”