Pollina becomes a new target in Douglas ads

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(Host) With time ticking down on this year’s gubernatorial race, some political observers say they see a shift in strategy by the Douglas campaign.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Throughout most of this campaign, three-term Republican incumbent Jim Douglas has focused most of his criticism in his paid media ads on Democratic candidate Gaye Symington – but that’s beginning to change.

Douglas’s new TV ad presents a split screen of Symington and Independent candidate Anthony Pollina and the ads offer different reasons why each of these two candidates would be bad for the future of Vermont.

Why is this happening? Douglas’s campaign manager Dennise Casey says it was time to respond to Pollina’s sharp criticisms of the governor’s record:

(Casey) "One thing is for sure: Anthony Pollina has been out there attacking misleading and mischaracterizing the governor and if you look very closely at the ideas that he’s put forward you see very clearly that his ideas fall short of anything that could be considered an economic growth plan."

UVM political science professor Garrison Nelson thinks there’s another reason:

(Nelson) "Pollina is showing up in the Douglas ad because Pollina’s showing up in the Douglas polls no question the Douglas polling operation has been historically better than anybody else’s and my suspicion for the last few weeks has been that Pollina is making inroads into the Douglas strength and the logic is that Pollina is seen as the ‘change agent’."

And to deal with this dynamic, Nelson says Douglas is presenting himself as the right person to lead the state in uncertain economic times:

(Nelson) "Well what he’s basically saying is I’m Jim you know I’m your guy you know me better than anybody else …you trust me you know me you know I’m not going to lead the state down some reckless path that you need a steady hand on the tiller in these uncertain times."

Middlebury College political college professor Eric Davis thinks Pollina has also benefited from strong debate performances:

(Davis) "My sense travelling around the state talking with people is Pollina might very well be doing better than expected I would say at this point he might be closer to the 25% finish he had in his race for Lt. Governor in 2002 than to the core Progressive vote of 10 or 12%…the debates are showing that Pollina is more articulate at presenting the anti Douglas case summarizing the reasons why Vermont needs to change of leadership."

Davis says some Republican officials in other strong Obama states have seen their approval ratings plummet in the past few weeks but he says this doesn’t appear to be happening in Vermont because very few out of state groups are running major media campaigns linking Douglas to the Bush Administration.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.


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