Rainville considers Congressional run

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(Host) Major General, Martha Rainville, the longtime leader of the Vermont National Guard, says she’s considering a run for the U.S. House in 2006 as a Republican. She’s the third person over the last couple of weeks to signal an interest in next year’s campaign.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) It’s been no secret that both Republicans and Democrats have been courting Rainville as a potential candidate for statewide office in 2006.

With Congressman Bernie Sanders virtually certain to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Jim Jeffords, there’s been a lot of speculation that Rainville would seriously consider entering the U.S. House race. The big question has been her party affiliation.

Rainville is currently serving her fifth two-year term as commander of the Vermont National Guard and she says she’s definitely looking for other ways to serve the public.

(Rainville) “That’s why I’m considering it as seriously as I am. Because I do see it as another way to be able to really work on important issues and issues that affect Vermont.”

(Kinzel) Rainville says she’s flattered by the number of people who have encouraged her to run for office and she says she feels most comfortable running as a Republican:

(Rainville) “I am a mainstream Republican – that I speak out whenever I need to speak out. I’m very independent minded on things. But I really see myself fitting in with Republicans like the governor.”

(Kinzel) Republican Party chairman, Jim Barnet, is very enthusiastic about the possibility of having Rainville as the GOP candidate for Congress.

(Barnet) “We’re very pleased the excitement in the Republican Party is palpable. When it all shakes out I know that we’re going to have a candidate who’s going to win back that seat for the Republican Party.”

(Kinzel) Democratic Party chairman Peter Mallary thinks Rainville or any other GOP congressional candidate will face some difficult questions:

(Mallary) “I think Vermonters are going to have some trouble sending a representative to Washington who’s going to be helping build a majority for the likes of Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay – whether it’s General Rainville or anybody else.”

(Kinzel) How strong a candidate would Rainville be? Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis.

(Davis) “In the House race she could be a very serious contender. This House race is going to be wide open. She would come into either the Republican primary or the general election, with several advantages, probably the biggest of which is name recognition. Because of all the ceremonies for troops returning from or going off to Iraq and Afghanistan over which she’s presided in the last couple of years she’s become very well known to Vermonters.”

(Kinzel) Rainville says she hopes to make a final decision about this race in the next few months.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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