Douglas, Racine continue to spar over campaign radio ad

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(Host) Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas is accusing the Democrats of using a controversial ad to divert voters’ attention from the real issues in the governor’s race. Democratic candidate Doug Racine says the charge is absolutely false and that the issues raised in the ad need to be discussed.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) A controversial campaign ad launched by the Democrats late last week on the radio and in newspapers is now arriving in homes all across the state as a glossy direct-mail piece. The ad accuses the Republicans, gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas and lieutenant governor candidate Brian Dubie of “trying to steal the election” by using a quirk of the Vermont Constitution.

The constitution requires the Legislature to elect the next governor or lieutenant governor if no candidate receives 50% of the vote in those races. It’s believed that the Republicans will have a majority of the 180 members of the General Assembly and the Democrats fear that the GOP members will elect Douglas or Dubie even if these candidates do not receive the most popular votes. Douglas says the ad campaign is a smokescreen designed to deflect voter interest from the pressing issues facing the state:

(Douglas) “Doug Racine has no message. He has no vision. He has nothing to offer the people of Vermont other than the controversial distraction about the constitutional requirement for 50%. They’re listening to what I’m saying and his campaign is losing momentum, so all he has to offer is a distraction. A hypothetical, a parody radio ad to talk about something like the War of the Worlds and I don’t think that’s going to resonate with the people of Vermont.”

(Kinzel) Racine says Douglas’ charge has no foundation because Racine has debated key issues with Douglas at more than two dozen campaign forums. And Racine says the Democratic ad raises some important questions for voters to consider:

(Racine) “If he would agree that on election night, if he’s come in second, he’s lost the election and that I’ve won the election, certainly we’d pull the ad. But until then, Vermonters should know what his position is and he can’t hide behind words like smokescreen. When he’s out there saying to Vermonters, ‘I don’t respect your vote, I won’t respect the decision that you made,’ that’s wrong.”

(Kinzel) Independent candidate Con Hogan says the entire controversy over the ad demonstrates the need to have a new non-partisan voice leading the state in the future.

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

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