Political parties anticipate negative campaign season

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(Host) The head of the Vermont Republican Party says he’s concerned that the state’s 2004 gubernatorial contest “is shaping up to be the most negative campaign ever waged.” Speaking Tuesday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, GOP Chairman Jim Barnet said the Republicans need to be prepared to help Governor Jim Douglas defend himself from partisan attacks leveled by the Democrats and Progressives.

Barnet says recent remarks made by Burlington mayor Peter Clavelle are an early indication of this negative approach. Clavelle, who is a Progressive, has announced that he will run in the Democratic gubernatorial primary next year:

(Barnet) “I think that’s a sad, sad analysis from the leader of apparently now two political parties suggesting that what’s most important to him is not improving education, not achieving affordable access to health care, not improving our economy and creating jobs. But in fact his main priority is beating the governor.”

(Host) The chairwoman of the state’s Progressive Party, Martha Abbott, said Barnet was using incorrect and inflammatory labels to describe some of the people who might run against Governor Douglas next year:

(Abbott) “I think when you throw around labels like ‘extreme’ you need to look at where most Vermonters are at. Because many Vermonters do not agree with either the statewide or the national Republican program.”

(Host) Abbott says that while some Progressives are angry about Clavelle’s decision to run as a Democrat, many others support the idea because they believe he will make an excellent governor.

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