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Former Rep. Paul Ralston eyes return to Montpelier

NEW HAVEN — Former State Rep. Paul Ralston told the Independent on Wednesday he’s seriously considering a run for one of the two state Senate seats representing Addison County, Huntington and Buel’s Gore.
The entry of this third Democrat into the race would trigger a Democratic primary election on Aug. 14. Incumbent Sen. Christopher Bray, D-New Haven, and fellow Democrat Ruth Hardy of Middlebury (see related story by clicking here) have already confirmed their candidacies. The top two vote-getters in the primary would move on to face any Republican opposition in the Nov. 6 general election.
Ralston, who recently moved to New Haven, is the founder and CEO of Middlebury-based Vermont Coffee Co. He represented Middlebury in the Vermont House from 2011 through 2014. He decided not to run for re-election in 2014, citing mounting professional commitments.
But Ralston, 65, has put together a management team for his business that he believes would free him up to serve in Montpelier during the next biennium, should he run and be elected. He acknowledged his interest in the position comes in wake of incumbent Sen. Claire Ayer’s May 3 announcement to not seek another term.
“I hadn’t expected Claire to not run this year,” Ralston said during a phone interview.
“It would have been great is she could have served another term,” he added, citing Ayer’s expertise in health care issues.
So Ralston has spent the past week in conversations with current lawmakers and local folks to help him decide if a Senate run could become a winning proposition. He’s already received a green light from his family.
“I’m going to be digging into this during the next couple of weeks to see what I can figure out,” Ralston said.
This isn’t the first time Ralston has considered re-entering the legislative fray.
He hosted a political show on WDEV radio 96.1-FM back in 2016. That show, titled “The Reluctant Politician,” saw Ralston openly debate the issue of whether he should run for office, which he later confirmed as being that of lieutenant governor. In the end, he did not run.
 It was in August of 2010 that the Middlebury Town Democratic Committee voted 6-5 to select Ralston as Rep. Steve Maier’s replacement on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. Maier, an eight-year Addison-1 incumbent and then-chair of the House Health Care Committee, announced he would withdraw from the Nov. 2 ballot in order to take a job with Department of Vermont Health Access.
Ralston served on the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee, dealing with programs and policies to stimulate business growth in the state.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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