National Groups Target Vermont’s Gubernatorial Race

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(Host) Vermont’s campaign for governor this year is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in the state’s history – that’s because the national political parties have identified Vermont as a top priority.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel takes a look at how the national groups plan to be involved in the race.

(Kinzel) Why are the national organizations targeting Vermont?  The biggest reason is that the state has an open race for governor because Republican Jim Douglas is stepping down after 8 years in office.

Five Democrats are seeking their party’s nomination and it appears likely that Lt. Governor Brian Dubie will face little or no opposition in the GOP primary.

Tim Murtaugh is the Communications Director for the Republican Governors Association:

(Murtaugh) "We do view Vermont as one of the states that we’re paying attention to. What we choose to do and what actions we take in Vermont and how we do it – we wouldn’t give away the playbook. We’re not going to telegraph what we’re going to in Vermont."

(Kinzel) Murtaugh says there are a variety of ways that the RGA can get involved in this race:

(Murtaugh) "The intensity level will certainly pick up we’ve launched a website in California we’ve run television ads in Florida I’ve done press releases in probably two dozen states across the country Vermont included there will be a variety of levels of involvement."

(Kinzel) Emily DeRose is the Communications Director at the Democratic Governors Association. She says her group is also very interested in this election:

(DeRose) "There are 37 governors’ races in 2010 and Vermont is toward the top of the list of races, where we think we’ll be able to put a Democrat in the governorship."

In 2008, Vermont strongly supported President Barack Obama and re-elected Republicans Jim Douglas and Brian Dubie.  DeRose says she’s not discouraged by this situation:

(DeRose) "No absolutely not, because I think the election in 2010 is going to be about which candidate has the right vision to turn the economy around.  And so I think that voters are going to take a look at who the candidates are, what their plans are, what they’re focusing on and make their decision that way."

(Kinzel) Middlebury College political science professor emeritus Eric Davis says he’s not surprised that the national parties have made Vermont a top priority and he says they can play an important role:

(Davis) "In this early stage of the campaign they can do polling and things like that and share the results with the candidates. And that saves candidates a little bit of money, but the Republicans Governors Associations and the Democratic Governors Association have their biggest impact in terms of the so called independent campaigns they run on behalf of their party’s gubernatorial nominee. So most of what these organizations will end up spending in Vermont will go for broadcast advertising."

(Kinzel) Davis says he expects the national groups will each spend several hundred thousand dollars on media advertising in this year’s race.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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