Parker says Douglas waging negative campaign

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(Host) Democrat Scudder Parker says Governor Douglas is waging a negative campaign with ads that suggest Parker is ready to raise taxes.

But Douglas says the ad is an effective way to point out the differences between himself and his Democratic challenger.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Douglas) “Some people make a name for themselves, and they call Scudder Parker “Mr. Property Tax.”

(Dillon) The governor’s new TV ad shows a newspaper article from the mid-1980s with the headline “Mr. Property Tax.” That’s from the time when Parker, then a state senator, advocated a statewide property tax as a way to solve an education funding crisis.

The governor’s radio ad goes further. It labels Parker “Mr. Income Tax, Mr. Payroll Tax, and Mr. Gas Tax.” The ad says: “There’s just one name Vermonters shouldn’t call Scudder Parker and that’s governor.”

Parker says he’s shocked by the tone of the commercials.

(Parker) “In his ad, Governor Douglas is saying to Vermonters that no name is too outrageous to call a candidate. No attack is to scurrilous to call an opponent. You know what, this isn’t about me. This is about how we conduct ourselves as candidates.”

(Dillon) The Democratic candidate drew a comparison between the governor’s ads, and the advertisements used by G-O-P Senate candidate Rich Tarrant against Independent Bernie Sanders.

But Governor Douglas says the ads aren’t negative. He says if you look at Parker’s career he’s talked about the taxes mentioned in the ads.

(Douglas) “I suppose a candidate who has nothing to offer Vermonters in terms of making it more affordable to live here, no ideas on reducing the oppressive property tax burden, extending opportunities for higher education, and more housing, more accessible health care, would probably talk about advertising. But I’m talking about the issues that are important to the people of this state and it’s resonating. My affordability agenda is resonating strongly with Vermonters.”

(Dillon) Parker responds that Governor Douglas has had four years to make life more affordable for Vermonters – and hasn’t delivered.

He says the governor at various times in his own political career has supported increasing the gas tax, the sales tax, and a tax on health insurance premiums.

(Parker) “That’s a part of the discussion. And to say that the word tax, or anything having to do with generating revenue to run programs that will actually lower costs for Vermonters, is poison, and can’t be on the table, really restricts the whole discussion. And it takes attention from the fact that he’s done the same thing himself.”

(Dillon) Parker says he’s ready to debate the serious issues facing the state. But he says he doesn’t want the campaign to degenerate into name-calling.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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