It's Official! Lt. Gov. Dubie Running for Governor
UPDATE at 10:30 a.m. with reaction from Vermont GOP Chairman Rob Roper / Also corrected Mark Snelling's political intentions. He's running for lieutenant governor.
UPDATE X 2 at 12:10 p.m. with reaction from Gov. Jim Douglas and former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine, now a state senator and Democratic contender for governor.
UPDATE X 3 at 12:25 p.m. with comments from Judy Bevans, chairwoman of the Vermont Democratic Party.
UPDATE X 4 at 3:25 p.m. with comments from Democratic challengers Secretary of State Deb Markowitz and State Sen. Susan Bartlett (D-Lamoille) and Republican State Auditor Tom Salmon
Republican Lt. Governor Brian Dubie made it official moments ago via email: He will be a candidate for governor in 2010.
Dubie, now serving his fourth term as lite guv, made the announcement just over a month after the current officeholder — Republican Gov. Jim Douglas — announced that he would not seek a fifth term.
An official kickoff will be held at a later date.
Dubie is not expected to have a GOP challenger, unlike on the Democratic side. To date, three Democrats have announced their intentions to run for governor: Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, State Sen. Doug Racine (D-Chittenden) and State Sen. Susan Bartlett (D-Lamoille). Also likely to jump in are former State Sen. Matt Dunne and current Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin.
In his announcement, Dubie played down his own personal social and fiscal conservatism and played up his role as someone who can bring people together.
“I have devoted the past few weeks to cross-checking my thoughts with the thoughts of other Vermonters – thoughts about where we are as a state and about the challenges we face," said Dubie in a statement. "I have measured my experience and my capabilities against those benchmarks and have taken a long look at how we could lead our state forward through difficult times.”
As I've reported in "Fair Game", Dubie had to weigh many considerations, including the wishes of his family and whether he's ready for what is likely to be a bruising, and difficult, campaign.
Dubie said he will run on a platform of "restoring jobs, restoring opportunity and restoring financial security."
I'm sure Democrats will have a field day with that theme, given that a Republican has been in charge of state government since 2003, not to mention the GOP has largely been in charge in Washington, DC, too.
“Every household in Vermont knows that you can’t spend more money than you take in. Our state revenues have fallen precipitously. We need to rebuild our base and work to grow opportunity. We must reject deficits," added Dubie in his statement. "We need to manage and reduce debt. And finally, we need to rebuild our reserves and work to reduce taxes."
Dubie said he plans to use his skills as a mediator to bring people together and find common ground.
"I tell Vermonters that I’m the middle child in a family of six. My mother raised me to be a moderator, a peacemaker. Today, we need moderation in our state," said Dubie. "The skill of bringing people with divergent views together has served me well as lieutenant governor. Whoever becomes our next Governor, that person will need the ability to bring people together.”
State Sen. Randy Brock (R-Franklin) — who is considered a possible candidate for lieutenant governor — called Dubie's entrance into the governor's race, "welcome news."
"Brian has demonstrated a broad appeal to Vermonters. During his eight years as lieutenant governor, he has touched thousands of Vermonters, heard their stories and understands their wants and needs. He brings the kind of balance and moderation that Vermont needs in its next governor," said Brock.
As to his own political future, Brock said he will take time in the next week or so to determine what he'll do. He has considered a run for lieutenant governor.
"I will carefully consider how I can best assist Brian in his efforts. I certainly intend to be part of the 2010 Republican team," said Brock. "I will make my plans known soon."
One Republican has already announced he's running for lieutenant governor: Mark Snelling, the son of former Vermont Gov. Richard Snelling and Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling.
Other Republicans considering a run for lieutenant governor include Sen. Phil Scott (R-Washington) and Sen. Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland).
On the Democratic side there are no announced candidates for lieutenant governor. However, Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan, State Sen. Ed Flanagan (D-Chittenden), State Sen. Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden), former VT CARES executive director Tim Palmer, and Progressive State Rep. David Zuckerman of Burlington have indicated they're considering it.
I'll update this post throughout the day as more politicos respond to Dubie's announcement. Stay tuned.
* * * update at 10:30 a.m. * * *
Vermont's GOP Chairman Rob Roper is pretty happy about Dubie's decision.
No surprises here, the GOP bench in Vermont is not all that deep and Dubie is one of the few Republicans who have run, and won, in Vermont — an increasingly Democratic state. Brock, who won as state auditor, is the other. There is also the guy who beat Brock, as a Democrat, but recently left the party to become a Republican: Auditor Tom Salmon.
"Vermont couldn't ask for a finer individual to step forward," said Roper in a statement. "Brian Dubie is a pilot, a soldier, a farmer, a husband and father. It is his deep and sincere commitment to these roles in his life that has made him such an empathetic and effective public servant. He's the real deal, and the people of Vermont know it."
* * * update at 12:15 p.m. * * *
As expected, Gov. Jim Douglas was more than happy to lend his support to Dubie's candidacy for governor. Dubie has served as Douglas' "co-pilot" since the pair were elected to their current posts in 2002.
Dubie has served on the governor's Homeland Security Advisory Council and the state's Healthy Aging Commission, among other panels, Douglas noted.
"I believe that Brian has the strength and experience to lead our great state. He is uniquely qualified to build on the work that we've done to grow good jobs, support struggling families and businesses and to make Vermont a better place to live," said Douglas, in a statement issued by the Vermont GOP. "I know he'll continue to put Vermonters first as our next governor."
Meanwhile, one of Dubie's potential challengers — Democrat Doug Racine — notes that Dubie's campaign platform seems to be one that is trying to distance himself from policies he's supported for almost eight years.
"He says he's been talking to Vermonters. I've been talking to Vermonters, too; we all talk to Vermonters and what I hear is that it's time for a change. This administration, of which Brian has been part of, is not working," said Racine. "In a sense he is running against himself and Jim Douglas' administration."
Of the Democrats running for governor, Racine is the only pol who has bested Dubie in a one-on-one race.
Dubie challenged Racine in 2000 for the post of lieutenant governor and lost by a 53-41 margin. A key issue in that race was Racine's support for civil unions. In fact, Racine supported full-fledged same-sex marriage at the time.
"That whole campaign was about civil unions," said Racine of the 2000 race, which was perhaps best known for the "Take Back Vermont" meme of Republican candidates that year. Many people were also upset by the passage of Act 60, then the state's new statewide education funding law.
"He was playing on the anger without being angry himself," said Racine.
Perhaps a sign of things to come?
* * * update at 12:25 p.m. * * *
From the Vermont Democratic Party:
“After seven years of empty promises and failed initiatives, Brian Dubie and the state Republicans are offering us more of the same,” said Vermont Democratic Party Chairwoman Judy Bevans. “Vermonters are desperate for a governor who will bring a new sense of leadership to the office of governor, not more of the same. We need a full-time governor who can lead Vermont into the future, not a part-timer with ties to the past.”
“The upcoming election provides Vermonters with an opportunity to elect a leader with the vision to advance our state and the means to achieve it," Bevans added. "The Democratic Party has every confidence that our line-up of outstanding and well-qualified candidates for statewide offices will provide Vermonters with that option for bold leadership in 2010."
* * * update at 3:25 p.m. * * *
Republican State Auditor Tom Salmon, who was until several weeks ago, a Democrat, has weighed in on Dubie's bid for governor.
"Brian Dubie sees a stronger Vermont; with economic growth, living within our means, and neither overtaxing or overburdening our citizens and children," Salmon told Seven Days. "He has my unequivocal support in this critical 2010 election. See the hill; take the hill."
Meanwhile, a potential contender for the 2010 governor's race — Democratic Secretary of State Deb Markowitz — said she, too, welcomes Dubie to the race: "I think it'll be good to have so many competing visions is good for the state. As I go around the state, I hear from people that they like my track record as a leader and as someone who brings people together and gets results."
Markowitz said she's not sure that Dubie's socially conservative views will be a hindrance during the campaign, or much of an issue with voters.
Finally, Democratic Sen. Susan Bartlett (D-Lamoille), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Dubie's entrance into the race will force a serious debate about the issues facing Vermont.
"You have a bunch of people running for governor right now who have been in the same chamber, if not the same building, for an extended period of time and we've all had to work together," said Bartlett. "I would hope that adds to the civility of it."
Despite his service as lieutenant governor, Bartlett believes Dubie will bring new ideas to the campaign that can foster a more substantive debate on the state's fiscal challenges.
"I think for Brian it really is an interesting challenge—he's been the governor's wing guy for almost eight years, so if Brian is saying something needs to be repaired, he sure knows what it is," said Bartlett. "It's a difficult positions that he finds himself in."