(Host) Although he has run twelve statewide campaigns since 1980, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas is putting together the largest organization that he’s ever had for this year’s race.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports in the first of our series looking at campaign style and strategy in the governor’s race.
(Kinzel) It’s moving day at the Douglas for Governor headquarters in Montpelier. The campaign has been operating out of one large room for several months with desks scattered in every corner of the room. Lawn signs for the campaign are leaning against the wall blocking the main window in the room and boxes loaded with paperwork are stacked up beside every desk, creating an obstacle course for anyone who tries to walk from one end of the office to the other.
Neil Lunderville, who is Douglas’ campaign manager, takes a short break before attempting to load a large office copier onto a dolly:
(Lunderville) “We have a space here that’s less than 500 square feet and at times there are six, seven , eight of us with volunteers and everybody, and sometimes more than that working in this space. And between the phones ringing and people answering their cell phones and everything else going on, it’s really just too small for us.”
(Kinzel) Lunderville says the campaign is headed to Burlington where it will be located in a space that has a large central room and a group of separate offices for key staff people:
(Lunderville) “Somebody said political campaigns are like just a ball of chaos and the job of the campaign manager is to keep the ball of chaos moving forward. And I think that’s kind of what we are doing now. Not really chaos of course, but it’s rapidly growing and we need space for that and that’s what Burlington will allow us to do.”
(Kinzel) The Douglas campaign has made two key decisions concerning the early allocation of their money. First, it’s conducted extensive research on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Doug Racine. Computers track every issue Racine has spoken about in his career in the state Senate and his three terms as lieutenant governor.
For example, after Racine discussed the passage of Vermont’s welfare reform law in 1993 on VPR’s Switchboard program last week, the Douglas campaign put out a press release the next morning claiming that Racine had misrepresented his position on this issue and they cited several newspaper articles from 1992. Douglas says this kind of research is a critical part of his campaign:
(Douglas) “To hold my opponent accountable, to be sure that people understand where he’s been, where he is now – particularly because he’s flip flopped on a lot of major issues. A sort of election year conversion, taking positions that are different from where he’s been in the past. I expect my record to be examined. I think we can expect that his will be as well and I want to be sure to have the resources available to respond.”
(Kinzel) Douglas also decided to spend roughly $50,000 on an early television campaign. Throughout the month of May, Douglas ran a series of spots highlighting his concern about the creation of new jobs in the state:
(Douglas) “I wanted to introduce myself or reintroduce myself to the people of Vermont. I believe that my opponent and I are well known in terms of having our names recognized by most of the public, but not well known in terms of having a detailed knowledge of our experience and positions on a lot of important issues. So I thought it important to get out front to set the tone and agenda for the campaign early in the year. And I had the resources to do that and I think that was a wise strategy.”
(Kinzel) Douglas expects to spend at least one million dollars on this campaign and he’s counting on a major contribution from the National Republican Party to help him meet his budget goal.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.