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Campaign Finance Reports Indicate Early Interest In Vermont’s Top Offices

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Campaign finance reports were due at the Vermont Secretary of State’s office Wednesday. While many candidates have yet to gear up for the 2016 campaign — which features a rare open gubernatorial seat — there a few are aggressively fundraising for the state’s top offices.

Candidates for all offices were required to file disclosure and expenditure reports by Wednesday.
Many candidates, including House Speaker Shap Smith – who is considering a run for governor – reported no fundraising.  Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott,  a potential Republican gubernatorial candidate, also reported no activity.  His possible primary opponent, Randy Brock, followed suit.

But there are a couple candidates who did report gathering some money.

Political newcomer Democrat Brandon Riker has raised $102,000 in his bid for Lieutenant Governor.  

Former legislator and 2010 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Matt Dunne has raised $115,000.  While he has not officially announced, his filing states he is a candidate for governor in 2016. Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, is not seeking a fourth two-year term.

Middlebury College Professor emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis says the filings indicate one major thing about the 2016 election.   “And that is Matt Dunne is very serious about becoming a candidate for governor of Vermont. Matt Dunne, former member of the legislature, ran statewide twice before. He lost to Brian Dubie for Lieutenant Governor in 2006 and came in 4th in a 5-way Democratic primary for governor in 2010. He’s raised over $100,000 for a gubernatorial campaign in 2016.  He’s not formally announced his campaign yet.  So clearly he’s accumulating funds and it seems to me is preparing to enter this race later this year.”

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos finds it a bit unusual for fundraising of this degree to be occurring so early in Vermont’s election cycle.   “It’s entirely possible to raise money in a short amount of time. It just depends on your contacts and how you do it.  Now interestingly what Matt’s done is he has solicited contributions from some of the big donors that exist here in the state of Vermont which may limit what those people will give to another candidate.”

Both candidates reporting donations of more than $100,000 are Democrats.  Vermont Democratic Party Executive Director Julia Barnes says the filings merely indicate personal motivation.  “The Democratic party is looking  forward to a very energetic primary for the gubernatorial race and I believe that we have a number of folks that have either begun preparing for the Lieutenant Governor’s race or have expressed interest in the Lieutenant Governor’s race.  Where it will become important to evaluate is when we see more people filing their first reports.”

This is the first campaign filing in which candidates were required to report electronically.  208 reports had been filed by Thursday morning and all material is available on the Vermont Secretary of State’s website.

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