Dean urges gov. candidates to endorse plurality victory

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(Host) Governor Howard Dean is calling on the candidates in the gubernatorial race to agree that the person who receives the most votes should be declared the winner of that race. Dean says there will be public outrage if the Legislature elects a candidate who does not receive a plurality of votes.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Governor Howard Dean has decided to jump into one of the most controversial issues of this year’s gubernatorial race. Speaking to reporters at a Statehouse press conference, Dean said he’s asking all of the candidates in the race to agree to a simple principle – if no person receives 50% of the vote, the candidate who gets the most votes should be recognized as the next governor of Vermont.

If no candidate receives a majority of votes the election will be decided by the Legislature. It’s believed that the Republicans will have a majority of the 180 members of the General Assembly after the November election. Dean says the state will face a crisis if Republican candidate Jim Douglas comes in second in the popular vote and then is elected by the GOP lawmakers:

(Dean) “It’s a long standing tradition of fairness and we’ve had enough partisanship develop in this Legislature in the 20 years that I’ve been in politics. And I would like to at least not to cross the final threshold where governors are elected based on partisan considerations. We do need to have some respect for the voters.”

(Kinzel) The vote by the Legislature would be done by secret ballot. Dean is calling on all lawmakers to publicly reveal whom they voted for:

(Dean) “So I think for the good of the process and for the ease of governance in Vermont for the next two years that it’s really important that voters ask every legislative candidate: ‘Will they publicly declare who they vote for in the governor’s election?’ I think we are owed that as Vermonters.”

(Kinzel) Dean’s comments are aimed directly at Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas who was not influenced by the governor’s comments:

(Douglas) “This is politically motivated. It’s a smokescreen – it’s designed to distract us from the issues of this campaign. Doug Racine has no message. He’s losing momentum. He’s scared that my campaign is gaining strength, and he knows that I have very good chance of achieving a majority.”

(Kinzel) Douglas says he would not feel like an illegitimate governor if the Legislature elects him to the post even though he didn’t receive the most votes in the race.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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