(Host) Senator Jim Jeffords announced that he wouldn’t be making endorsements in this year’s campaigns, but a new letter leaves no doubt whom he supports for Congress.
Jeffords says GOP House candidate Martha Rainville is “a talented leader” but that he thinks Democrat Peter Welch is a better choice for Vermont.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel has more.
(Kinzel) Jeffords made his comments in a letter to the National Republican Congressional Committee. He’s upset about a new TV spot being run by the NRCC in support of Rainville.
The ad opens with images of George Aiken, Robert Stafford and Jeffords.
(NRCC ad) “Vermont sends strong leaders to Washington known for their independence now there’s a new leader running to take Vermont’s independent tradition to Congress.”
(Kinzel) In his letter to NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds, Jeffords asks the group to stop running the ad immediately because it “strongly implies that I am supporting General Rainville. This is not true.”
Jeffords goes on to say that he believes the country will be better served if Democrats regain control of the U.S. House and, for this reason, he believes “Peter Welch is a better choice for Vermont.”
Ed Patrough is a Communications director at the NRCC. He says the group won’t comply with Jeffords’ request.
(Patrough) “There’s no suggestion that in the ad that either Senator Jeffords or two previous senators have endorsed in this race. It simply makes the case that Martha is an independent minded candidate.”
(Kinzel) Under federal law, it’s illegal for Rainville to have any contact with independent groups that choose to run ads on her behalf. After viewing the NRCC spot on Monday, she says she doesn’t agree with Jeffords’ assessment:
(Rainville) “No I don’t see that that could be perceived as being an endorsement. I think it’s very complimentary to the people that are in the ad.”
(Kinzel) She also says Jeffords’ comments in support of Democrat Peter Welch aren’t that surprising:
(Rainville) “I’m not surprised that a senator who votes Democratic and has been raising funds for Democrats the last election cycle or two would come out and support a Democrat 29 days left in the election. It’s a tight race. I disagree with him but he’s certainly has the right to his opinion.”
(Kinzel) Rainville says she’s pleased that the NRCC is running a positive ad and she hopes the organization will continue to use this approach in any future TV spots.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.