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Shumlin Launches Re-Election Campaign

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Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin kicked off his reelection campaign this week, vowing to continue his commitment to take the state down a progressive path.

Shumlin officially launched his bid for reelection Tuesday before a roomful of supporters in Burlington. His nearly 15-minute speech — which at times sounded more like a state-of-the-state — included an overview of  the initiatives he has worked on in his nearly four years in office, including job creation, renewable energy, fighting opiate addiction and his call for a payer health care system.  The Democrat waxed on how the state has rebuilt better since Tropical Storm Irene, becoming a model for the nation.

Shumlin is being challenged by Republican Scott Milne and a number of independent candidates, including Libertarian Dan Feliciano.  It was near the end of his speech when he acknowledged his opponents.  “Our Republican and Libertarian opponents’ positions can be summed up like this: they’re against pretty much everything that you and I are for.  They live in a world of no. In the case of my Republican opponent that means no positions on issues. I’ll give credit to the Libertarian party candidate.  At last he’s willing to take positions on issues, even though his positions are far outside the mainstream of Vermonters.  In this election I’m going to be asking Vermonters to continue to say yes to progress and keep Vermont moving up.”

Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis expects Governor Shumlin to follow a classic incumbent’s campaign strategy.  “Shumlin has two strategies. One is to follow the incumbent strategy which is to ignore the opponents as much as possible.  So try to have a small number of debates and joint appearances and so forth.  And second, when he does have joint appearances with the other candidates to spend as much time talking about Feliciano as he does about Milne, trying to divide the opposition vote. Shumlin is in a very strong position here. And looking at this campaign, it may be a more exaggerated example, but this campaign is typical of why for the last 52 years no incumbent governor of Vermont has been defeated in a re-election bid.”

Seven Days is Vermont’s independent weekly newspaper. Political Columnist Paul Heintz says there are some extraordinarily important and interesting issues that separate the candidates.  “Particularly the single payer health care overhaul.  There’s a big vote coming up about how to actually fund that overhaul. This could end up being one of the most important votes the Legislature takes in a decade. And you’d think it would generate a little bit more debate than it has, but we just really haven’t seen that robust debate that you would expect.  The other big issue is the very quick growth in property taxes.  But on both those issues we haven’t really seen Scott Milne, the Republican,  articulate a very strong or clear vision. Governor Shumlin wants this to be as low key as it can be and so far we just haven’t seen much evidence of Scott Milne finding purchase.”

Vermont Digger is the state’s independent online investigative newspaper. Editor Anne Galloway says the governor emphasized his positive accomplishments and legacy.  “He doesn’t have a serious challenger. So he doesn’t need to lay it on thick in the campaign.  He can afford to talk about the way he sees the future of Vermont. And I think that is what he took an opportunity to do on Tuesday night. He said repeatedly that Vermonters want a governor who’s innovative and bold, not someone who’s timid and concerned with the status quo. He said that repeatedly and he talked about that in terms of Vermont’s future.”

Audio from the governor’s campaign launch is courtesy of vtdigger.org.

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